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National strategies on flooding in focus

Published: 13 June 2012

With increased rainfall and climate changes the risk of flooding increases. LTU researchers Maria Pettersson and Kristina Ek, active in jurisprundence and economics, are now working together on a new EU project related to this area.

– The project Star Flood is about to examine how different countries implement the EU Flood Directive, says Kristina Ek.

– We must find effective strategies to manage water. Therefore we need to identify strategies used in the current situation and evaluate them, says Maria Pettersson.

There are different ways of dealing with floods. Should we work with prevention and allow the water to adjust to us, or should we adapt to floods? And how do we handle the situation when the disaster strikes? These strategies may look completely different depending on which country they are implemented.

– The countries that already have had major problems with flooding and tried many strategies needs to move forward. In Holland, for example, they dig ditches and canals while still building houses several meters below the water level, says Kristina Ek.

– Sweden is interesting from this perspective that we have not had much trouble before. We can basically start from scratch and choose our strategies in a completely different way, says Maria Pettersson.

Three areas of focus

The project is in its early days and the results will be based on studies of three areas: The Tornio delta, Karlstad and Gothenburg.

– Karlstad has a flood coordinator, which means they are in the pipeline. Gothenburg is the most flood-affected region in the country, says Maria Pettersson.

– The Tornio delta is particularly interesting because it is a boundary. It is not just one country, but two to agree on a strategy, explains Kristina Ek.

Definition of potential barriers

The researchers will look at what affects the ability to perform various actions. What obstacles might there be for the actual implementation of the Floods Directive?

– Sweden has, for example, a highly decentralized structure in which each local authority can make decisions about which strategies they want to use. It will be interesting to see how this affects the ability of an efficient implementation of the directive says Maria Pettersson.

– From the economic side we will for example examine how different people value different strategies. For example if there are more important to preserve a historical environment than to interfere to prevent flooding, says Kristina Ek.

Star Flood funded by the EU's Seventh Framework Programme and will run for 3.5 years. The entire project consists of 337 million euros. LTU's part consists of about eight million. Besides Maria Pettersson and Kristina Ek are more researchers involved from Sweden, UK, Netherlands, Belgium, Poland and France. A significant role is also the technical consultant Grontmij Nederland.