Flood Protection in Prague

Prague is the capital city of the Czech Republic and Vltava River flows through its historical centre. The Czech Republic is one of the countries most threatened by floods, which is why it is crucial to invest in flood protection measures. In 2017, Prague City Hall has approved increased flood protection, with barriers 30 centimeters higher than the 2002 flood level.


In particular, before the flood protection system of Prague was finished, the area threatened by floods was 57.5 square kilometers. In 2002, Prague experienced severe flooding, an event which was recognized as one of the most expensive in the history of the city with. The original intention was to protect the city to the level of the 1890 flood, and the 2002 flood was the worst, since sandbags had to be used to keep the water back, the Vltava river reached 5,300 cubic meters per second at its peak and The Prague Zoo and the Karlín district were the hardest hit areas.


The total damage of this weather-related disasters consisted of 24 billion CZK (1 billion euro), but the capital city has yet no strategy to deal with climate change impacts. There has been flooding since 2002, and the flood barriers were erected again in 2013, though the city center suffered much less damage. An intensive construction has been ongoing, allowing the city to be protected against the flooding of high water of the Vltava River as in the case of the great deluge of August 2002.


However, areas near the Vltava such as Lahovice still are not included, lacking sufficient protection. The areas with limited flood protection are not densely populated, and greener strategies have not been realized along the Vltava River. After the flood it was decided to elevate the existing protective dykes, following the experience as well as mathematical models.


Ever since, some adaptation measures were assessed using a cost benefit analysis with a return period of 50 years considered. Prague is located in a temperate climate zone, so future climate scenarios predict an increase in the number of extreme events such as wetter winters and weather fluctuations. After the event, Prague city has been developing a variety of flood control measures, which contribute to adaptation to climate change, and the objective is to speed up the development of a more resilient flood risk management system.


A flood protection system in Prague had been in the planning for decades, so after finishing the first phase of the works the original plans were upgraded to increase resilience, including fixed barriers (dykes) and additional measures such as pumping systems in the canalization. The specific adaptation measures implemented include also levees and earth mounds constructed along the Vltava River, as well as mobile barriers mainly used in the old historical centre and stored in a central storage area in Dubeč. The responsibility for flood protection measures is divided between the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of the Environment, therefore governance responsibilities are highly fragmented between these two actors.

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