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Flood of the century How Switzerland beefed up its flood defences

CHF650 million ($634 million) has been invested in flood defences since the so-called “flood of the century” hit Switzerland ten years ago. (SRF/swissinfo.chexternal link

The brunt was borne by the Bernese Oberland, the mountain cantons of Obwalden and Nidwalden in central Switzerland and various valleys in canton Valais in the French-speaking part of the country. Flooding resulted in a number of deaths and billions of francs worth of damage. 

Various measures were adopted to ensure that this wouldn’t happen again. About 50 different projects have been realised. Giant flood barriers were built in Meiringen, Brienz, Reichenbach, along the Lütschine river and in Diemtigtal. 

The city of Thun invested in an underground tunnel, draining lake water away under the town. When the lake went over the high water mark recently, the investment started to pay off. A relief tunnel was also built in Lyss. Weather prediction models for the alpine country were also improved. 

The state wants to invest CHF130 million ($133 million) in flood protection next year. Unfortunately many cantonal and communal projects are behind schedule for financial reasons.