Current flood events call for action

Aerial view of a flooded region.

Increasing need for effective, reliable flood protection measures

The prolonged Christmas floods of 2023 once again highlighted the importance of flood protection in protecting human lives, the environment and assets. It clearly showed what flood protection means in the lowlands today. Many areas of land have been used as floodplains or retention areas in order to better manage flood events and mitigate the overall effects of flooding. Traditional protective structures such as dykes, dams and retention basins were used to control the flow of water and protect assets in residential and industrial areas from flooding and damage.

Unfortunately, there were also reports of weak points in many places, such as “softened” dykes, vegetation and trees on dykes and flooded infrastructure. These weak points had to be dealt with by the operational disaster control team during the flood event in order to avert the worst consequences. Despite the highest flood warning level being reached across a large area, there were no dyke overtopping or breaches, even though the water level locally reached the top of the dyke and evacuations occurred.

The dyke renovation programmes of the federal states along the rivers and tributaries specify the prioritisation of dyke renovation projects, so that today only some of the dykes in the floodplain correspond to the current state of the art. In many places, the dykes need to be brought up to date, even starting from old single-zone dykes. Dikes on tributaries should not be forgotten in the context of flood protection.

In the context of dyke maintenance, the technical structure must take centre stage as a flood protection structure. Vegetative planting must be clearly defined and maintained. Secondary use must not conflict with safe flood protection.

The accessibility of the dykes was also a local problem. The lack of dyke defence paths or flooded access roads have hindered and complicated disaster control and rescue with emergency vehicles. This relevant infrastructure should also be adapted to future heavy rainfall events.

Geosynthetic solutions can provide an answer to these challenges. They enable resilient construction solutions for dyke construction and renovation measures as well as for flood-resistant road and railway lines. In February, Naue is dedicating two webinars to these topics, for which you can register free of charge using the following links. We look forward to welcoming you live to the webinars!