Flanders reduces chances of flooding

29th November 2011, Comments 0 comments

According to Waterways and Sea canal plc WENZ, an external agency of the government of Flanders, the danger of floods in the low-lying regions of Flanders could soon be reduced by three quarters. Heavy floods in East Flanders and Flemish Brabant in 2002, 2003 and 2010 made the authorities in Flanders realise how destructive water can be and led WENZ to launch about one hundred projects of varying sizes to address this issue. Since 2005 WENZ have spent about 30 million of its annual 124 million euro budget in the Sigma Plan to secure the Sea Scheldt basin against storm flooding from the North Sea. To meet the total investment requirement of 882 million euros for the period 2005-2030, Flanders will need to increase its current 30 million investment. The budget will be used to increase the height of the dikes at critical sections along the banks of the Scheldt and to construct controlled flooding areas GOGs where necessary. “We are giving back more land to nature. In the past this was not easily accepted by the local population, especially not by farmers. But today the general consensus seems to be that there is no other option,” says spokesman Joris De Bock. This is for example the case at Kruibeke where the River Scheldt creates two whimsical bends. By 2030 the last of thirteen planned flooding areas will be finished there. It is a large area which will probably face floodings during extreme weather conditions at least twice a year. As this specific area is linked to the Rupel, Nete and Durme tributaries, the entire Flanders region will immediately enjoy five times more protection. At the same time a new natural reserve will be created. An entirely different measure deals with the same flooding problem. The Scheldt quays in Antwerp will be increased by ninety centimetres. This has necessitated the construction of dikes, locks or flooding areas on and around the Rivers Dijle, Durme, Nete and Denders. “In the year 2000 climate change forced us to amend the plans we drafted in the seventies,” says Wim Dauwe from WENZ. “Today we must take into account a 60-centimetre rise in the sea level.  We have been measuring water levels since 1880 and during the past ten years extremely high or low levels have been much more common for the Scheldt than before.”

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