Local government officials for safe Vistula

Representatives of municipalities from the Podkarpackie, Lesser Poland, Świętokrzyskie and Lublin provinces talked about their needs regarding flood safety with experts and employees of Polish Waters. Over 80 representatives of local government units covered by the “Safe Vistula – towards a sustainable future” program took part in the meetings, which were held under the patronage of voivodes.

After the Krakow conference inaugurating the project aimed at developing a document entitled “Retention activities program as an element of flood risk management in the Upper Western Vistula and Upper Eastern Vistula water region between Kraków and Zawichost,” meetings were held with representatives of local communities. The debates in Kielce, Krakow, and Rzeszów were an opportunity for local government officials to present the needs regarding the safety of residents and flood protection, learn about examples of possible flood protection in Poland (including protection of the Odra River) and modern solutions abroad, e.g. multi-pronged programs in the Netherlands, the result of cooperation between many interested parties.
Stakeholders from the areas covered by the Program were introduced to possible activities whose common denominator is rational water management with respect for nature. This blue-green road map includes four main types of retention projects: in forests, agricultural, urbanized areas, and in river valleys. – This is a polemic with the widespread stereotype that water is collected for flood protection and to combat the effects of drought only in large reservoirs built for this purpose to collect excess rainwater and meltwater. In fact, we want to implement an ecological project covering many comprehensively complementary projects, the goal of which is a safe Vistula in the so-called Sandomierz section – said Radosław Radoń, Director of RZGW Krakow.

A palette of green solutions

During the meetings, other green solutions in forest areas were mentioned in addition to systematic tree planting: forest coastal buffers, restoration of small reservoirs and wetlands, and renaturalization of watercourses to slow down the outflow of rain and snowmelt waters. Among the potential activities in agriculture, the importance of maintaining and restoring field or roadside trees and buffer strips, as well as preserving or restoring small reservoirs and wetlands, and changing the way of farming in periodically flooded areas, i.e. the so-called paludiculture (swamp agriculture). For urbanized areas, it is necessary to slow down the flow of rainwater by using retention tanks (also in a very individual form – rain barrels), creating green roofs and urban forest parks, as well as unsealing or using permeable surfaces of communication routes and squares and streets and other changes in spatial development. River valleys, which in natural conditions provide space for flood waters to spread, may also provide scope for various activities. In addition to the construction of retention facilities, it was said that we should: restore oxbow lakes and wetlands, renaturalize river beds and their banks, increase the spacing of flood embankments, and build the so-called relief channels.

Flood protection is a necessity

Local government representatives admitted that their towns are increasingly struggling with floods and flooding. They pointed out that flood protection measures are needed, or even necessary. They also expressed concern for the proper maintenance of existing facilities and the use of previously introduced solutions. Attention was paid to, among others: the need to repair flood embankments and clean riverbeds and existing retention reservoirs. A separate group of problems were the restrictions raised by local government officials related to the implementation of activities in Natura 2000 areas. Stakeholders could and still can submit their comments and needs by completing a survey regarding the project issues.

Anyone can fill out the report

The survey is available to all interested parties from endangered areas and anyone can submit their suggestions and proposed solutions. The form is available in paper form (a printable survey is available on the project website) and online (link).
All reported needs and problems – including those that arise during individual meetings with representatives of local government units – will be analyzed and considered during the works on the program of activities in the area covered by the “Safe Vistula – towards a sustainable future” project. Its main goal is to reduce the potential negative effects of floods on human life and health, the environment, cultural heritage, and economic activity. The implementation of selected actions taking into account social, environmental, and infrastructural aspects will lead to a reduction in flood losses and a minimization of identified threats.

The development of an action program is planned for the years 2022-2024. We encourage you to follow the news on our website www.bezpiecznawisla.pl/

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