Prague still faces flood risks

The city is looking at several measures to reduce future flooding

Meteorologists last week as a precaution had to declare a flood emergency due to heavy rains. The last actual flooding in Prague was four years ago in 2013.

A contributing factor is the development of the Central Bohemia region, which is reducing the catchment area for floodwater. Areas that in the past could have absorbed excess water now are paved over with concrete.

Water flows quickly over concrete, and can cause larger waves of floodwater to reach the city, Prague City Councilor Jana Plamínková (STAN) told daily Mladá fronta Dnes.

Meteorologist Josef Hanzlík from the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute (ČHMÚ) told the daily that concrete can cause large amounts of floodwater to concentrate within a few minutes and does not give the city time to react.

The risk is more acute in some of the smaller streams that can overflow quickly.

Plamínková said it was not sufficient to build dams, but that the water needs to be caught in the upper parts of streams before it reaches city areas such as Nusle, which is on the Botič stream. Once the high water levels reaches urban areas, there is little that can be done.

Two weeks ago the city acquired 150,000 square meters of land from the Silva Tarouca Research Institute for Landscape and Ornamental Gardening (RILOG) in the Křeslice district. The Botič could be widened there to increase its ability to hold more water. A polder, or a large flat area to hold excess water, could be created there. Polders turn into temporary lakes during flooding.

The city is also looking at creating a polder in the Královice district, where the Rokytka stream flows. That is among several dozen suggestions being examined.

Some 10 areas of Prague plus the town of Říčany where the Rokytka and Říčanský streams flow, last year signed a memorandum asking the city to address the flooding issue. The districts hope to get more accomplished by working together.

Říčany is taking measures on its own to deal with flooding, including building a flood plain near some sports areas. Polders that could handle a 50-year flood are proposed for Říčany and the adjacent district of Kolvraty.

Some of the larger projects should be overseen by the City of Prague and Povodí Vltavy, which manages the Vltava river. The time for starting work on the projects is not yet clear.

Flooding in 2013 caused Kč 15.3 billion in damage across the Czech Republic, and the more extensive floods in 2002 caused Kč 60 billion. Flood defenses in Prague were more effective in 2013 than in 2002.

Some 15 people died in 2013 due to flooding in the Czech Republic and 26,000 people were evacuated. The worst affected areas were Central Bohemia, Prague, South Bohemia and the Ústí nad Labem region.

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