Poland spends big on flood prevention: official

The head of the National Water Management Authority (KZGW) Przemyslaw Daca has declared that Poland has been spending huge sums of money to prevent floods and that retention reservoirs, polders and levees were being built.

Mr Daca told Nasz Dziennik daily that most funds for these projects come from the World Bank and the Council of Europe Development Bank. "Annual investments carried out by the National Water Management Authority total nearly PLN 2 bn (EUR 444 mln)," he told the weekend edition of the paper.

The KZGW head stated that all these projects had been designed to improve the security of the Polish people, and to make up for the long negligence in water management.

The official mentioned two strategic projects regarding water management in Poland, namely, Stop Drought and Stop Flood. According to Mr Daca, the first one would soon be approved by the government, while the second one had been recently inaugurated. "It has been financed by EU funds," he added.

The Stop Flood scheme was inaugurated on June 24 with the aim to bring together experts and come up with solutions to prevent floods in Poland. As many as 200 experts debated on the July 24 conference, discussing the method of outlining the Plans of Flood Risk Management. Although the scheme kicked off only recently, works were in progress as early as March 2020. The end result of the scheme is to be a new 6-year plan of flood prevention that is to come into force in 2022.

Deputy Minister of Maritime Economy and Inland Navigation Anna Moskwa opened the conference, saying that the status of the anti-flood protection in Poland has been improving and that is due to the investments that have been concluded.

“Flood stages that we see today can be compared with those of 2010, especially where Silesia is concerned. Let us imagine floods taking place and us not having the Racibórz polder or the Buków polder. Now we are much better prepared for floods than we were in 2010 in terms of investments and management alike,” said Ms Moskwa.

The minister also stressed the importance of investments carried out in the Kłodzko Valley greatly damaged by the 1997 flood. She also stressed that PLN 350 mln (EUR 78.44 mln) would be earmarked for anti-flood investments in the area.

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Drought, plague and now floods

Poland experienced hailstorms and heavy rain with wind gusts up to 120 km/h in Małopolska, Podkarpackie, Lubelskie, Świętokrzyskie and several southern points of Mazovia. For its part, Warsaw experienced instances of inundation.

Due to the water level remaining high on July 4, three ferries “Słonka”, “Pliszka” and “Wilga” of the Warsaw Tourist Lines will not start transporting people from one side of the Vistula River to the other.

“In view of the high water level, the routines of WLT ferries has been suspended,” the Warsaw Transport Authority (ZTM) reported on Saturday.

In connection with the further rise of the Vistula, a flood alarm was announced on Monday in seven counties of the Płock district. In Wyszogród and Kępa Polska, the river exceeded alert levels. Authorities of Toruń and Bydgoszcz, which are two cities located down the Vistula River, also reported water exceeding alert levels in the days that followed.

The recent torrential rains mitigated the agricultural drought that Poland has been struggling with this year. According to the Institute of Soil Science and Plant Cultivation (IUNG) cited by AgroFakt.pl website, from April 21 to June 20 the provinces of Lubuskie, Zachodniopomorskie, Wielkopolskie, Lower Silesia, Podlaskie, Pomorskie and Kujawsko-Pomorskie suffered from agricultural drought.

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However, the alternate periods of drought and precipitation-incised floods are not propitious to dealing with the pith of the problem, which is the scarcity of groundwater in the lowest parts of the soil.

“The soil moisture in deeper ground levels, namely 28 to 100 cm as reported by the Institute of Meteorology and Water Management [IMiGW], signify that Poland is still in a state of serious drought. This water is close to the top ground level but not in the soil’s deeper parts. This is to say that while we are not seeing a risk of drought right now, a next warmer precipitation-free period could bring the threat back,” Marcin Popkiewicz, a physicist and the editor-in-chief of the “Nauka o klimacie” website said.

One of the government’s instruments of dealing with the drought is the “My Water” programme that launched on Wednesday funnelling funds into home water retention.