On 9 February, a series of meetings began in Kraków as part of the public consultation on the draft updated flood risk management plans (uFRMP). This is the first of 28 consultation meetings planned until June. In the Upper West Vistula Water Region, nearly 380 activities are planned to improve safety. Nearly half of them relate directly to Kraków and its immediate surroundings.
– The choice of Kraków for the inauguration was not accidental. The inhabitants of Małopolska’s capital still remember the great flood of 2010, and the city’s and region’s location means that the danger could reappear when the next flood comes. Citizens should feel safe, which is why we are taking many measures to increase flood protection. We have recently started construction work on the flood banks on the banks of the Vistula in Kraków. Thus, by 2022, the Wody Polskie will have completed the city’s flood protection system. I hope that the series of consultative debates on planned investments and activities aimed at improving the safety of local communities, which begins in the capital of Małopolska, will attract a lot of interest, – said Marek Gróbarczyk, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Infrastructure, responsible for water management issues and the implementation of investments in the maritime and water sector.
The fact that the element in the region is still dangerous was reminded by the floods in 2019 and 2020, when in many places in the provinces of Małopolska, Silesia, Świętokrzyskie and Podkarpackie the water overflowed from the banks of rivers and flooded the neighbouring areas. Last year, the inhabitants of Łapanów in the Bocheński district experienced flooding as a result of a broken embankment. Such events are a reminder that measures still need to be taken to reduce the risk of flooding. This is what the currently updated flood risk management plans (uFRMP) are for. Due to the pandemic restrictions, meetings during the public consultation of the uFRMP projects announced by the Minister of Infrastructure and coordinated by the Państwowe Gospodarstwo Wodne Wody Polskie are held online.
Stopping high water as early as possible
The Regional Water Management Board in Kraków organizationally supervises the field work of 5 catchment management boards: Kraków, Nowy Sącz, Kielce, Sandomierz, and Żywiec. – In practice, the scale of our actions is much greater. The actions we take affect the safety of not only the inhabitants of Małopolska and southern Poland, but also the regions of the country located around the lowland sections of the Vistula River. It is therefore crucial to properly and optimally manage the flood wave when it arrives, to rationally manage water in retention reservoirs, and to seek retention capacity in catchment areas so that the transfer of risk to downstream areas is as low as possible – explains Małgorzata Sikora, director of the Regional Water Management Board in Kraków. The way in which this “risk transfer” occurs is illustrated by the events of 2010. Intense precipitation in central Europe, including the mountainous south of Poland, first caused water surges in the Podkarpacie and Małopolska regions, and later also in the Mazovia and Lublin regions. The culmination of the flood wave on the Vistula has been the greatest for 160 years. All measures taken since those events are aimed at preventing a similar tragedy in the future. The framework for activity in this area is primarily determined by the flood risk management plans, which are implemented in six-year cycles. Since the adoption by the Council of Ministers of the first FRMPs (2016), a total of 1,071 different measures have been implemented in the Upper West Vistula Water Region. Several dozen of these will continue between 2022 and 2027. At the same time, almost 320 new projects have been planned. This extensive catalogue of diverse activities is currently under consultation. The first part (nearly 190 actions in total, including more than 40 continuing ones) was discussed at a meeting in Kraków, and the other part will be consulted on 10 February in Nowy Sącz.
Increasingly better protected Kraków
The most important features of the planned measures are consistency and comprehensiveness. In this way, a flood protection system for Kraków and its surroundings is being implemented with a total value of PLN 200 million. The project is being implemented in stages. In January this year, a contract was signed as part of the investment “Extension of flood banks of the Vistula River in Kraków.” Wody Polskie will modernise 20 km of embankments in three districts of Kraków: Podgórze, Czyżyny, and Nowa Huta. The investment will also cover part of the Wieliczka municipality. Its implementation will allow for comprehensive flood protection of Kraków, including direct protection of 40,000 inhabitants and their property in an area of 31 km2 and facilities of strategic importance for the entire city. The measures taken will secure, among others, the Kraków Combined Heat and Power Plant in Łęg, the Płaszów and Kujawy sewage treatment plants, the Waste Thermal Treatment Plant at ul. Giedroycia, part of the technological facilities of the Arcelor Mittal Steelworks, and a number of smaller industrial and service facilities located in the following streets: Lipska, Jana Surzyckiego, Rybitwy, and Christo Botewa. The value of this task is PLN 93 million. However, the list is much more extensive. For example, the construction of polders to protect the city against flooding will cost over PLN460 million. The planned activities also include the expansion of the right section of the embankment below the Dąbie stage together with the construction of flood prevention gates in the area of the repair yard for nearly PLN 30 million and the construction of a pumping station for mobile pumps to drain the Lesisko Complex for over PLN 8.2 million.
The most important thing is cooperation
Kraków is not the only area where complex activities are carried out within the RZGW Kraków site. Wody Polskie is also implementing the “Sandomierz Flood Protection” project. The investment, which consists of six tasks, will improve safety and protect the lives and property of approximately 20,000 residents. It covers an area of over 11,000 hectares. It is to protect Sandomierz and adjacent communes, including: Samborzec, Koprzywnica, Łoniów, Baranów Sandomierski, Gorzyce, Dwikozy and Zawichost. In mid-January, Wody Polskie commissioned the 4 pumping stations included in the project in Koćmierzów, Nadbrzezie, Szewce, and Zajeziorze. As Director Sikora emphasized during the opening ceremony, this investment (costing nearly PLN 200 million), important for the region, was successfully completed owing to very good cooperation between the Wody Polskie, local governments, and co-financing institutions. Another large and important project (worth almost PLN 80 million) is the improvement of flood safety of the so-called Oświęcim Junction while preserving and protecting the environment and promoting efficient management of water resources. Flood protection in the Serafa valley (three Malinówka reservoirs and the Serafa 2 reservoir – at a cost of nearly PLN 52 million) is an example of care for the environment and constructive cooperation with ecological circles. The Regional Water Management Board in Kraków has worked out changes with them in investment flood protection projects to reduce interference in green areas while maintaining flood protection parameters. In the future, the largest undertaking will be the construction of polders along the banks of the Vistula River from the mouth of the Dunajec River to Sandomierz, taking into account retention in the Strumień stream valley and the improvement of hydraulic parameters of the inter-embankment zone, i.e. the volume of water flow in the space between flood barriers. The total cost is over PLN 600 million. There are also plans to build controlled Vistula polders along the banks of the Vistula between Kraków and Oświęcim, as well as many other technical and non-technical measures located within the entire water region. In addition to typical investment solutions, monitoring and forecasting measures, and proposals for measures to support improved retention, a number of formal and legal instruments remain to be implemented to support even better flood risk management within the whole country.
Full lists of, inter alia, problem areas and structured lists of planned measures with details can be found at www.stoppowodzi.pl under “uFRMP projects for river basin districts.”
Together, let’s say Stop Flooding
On 10 February, public consultations of uFRMP will be held in Nowy Sącz, and on 16 and 17 February in Gliwice and Pszczyna. The debates will conclude with meetings on 26 and 27 May in Elbląg and Słupsk. Registration begins approximately 3 weeks before a specific meeting at www.stoppowodzi.pl Due to the epidemic situation, consultations in February and March are held online. If the restrictions are lifted, the meetings will resume in their traditional format. We will keep you informed about all changes in the news at www.stoppowodzi.pl.