Protection against flooding is a central river basin management task on the Emscher and Lippe and their subsidiary waterways. In the event of high water and extreme weather events, the otherwise peaceful waterways can rise threateningly. The precipitation situation, the density of construction, the ingress of housing developments into the watermeadows and even directly to the banks, the mining-related subsidence of large areas, and the associated dyking up of long sections of river - these are the factors in the Emscher-Lippe region that critically determine the flood risks. At the same time they are the basis for our flood management and flood risk minimisation measures.
Flood prevention and flood management
While in rural areas there is often enough land available along the waterway for temporary flooding, the situation in generally very different in the cities. Most waterways are in concrete-lined channels in a very limited space, and equipped with high dykes. The water has nowhere to go. If more rain than usual falls, the water level rises rapidly, particularly where the waterways are heavily reinforced, and flooding can develop. With coordinated technical and organisational precautions and protective measures, we are prepared for this situation. Stormwater retention basins moderate the flood peaks. Dykes along the waterways protect the mostly lower-lying surrounding areas from flooding, and pumping stations ensure that cellars do not fill with water and streets are not flooded. If flooding nevertheless occurs, flood action plans provide damage-limitation procedures.
Standardised flood management throughout Europe
As a reaction to the extreme flood events of recent years in many European river basins, the European Parliament passed a Floods Directive in 2007. Its objective is to minimise and manage flood-related risks to human health, the environment, infrastructure and property.