ICPR – International Commission for the Protection of the Rhine

Survey of „Rhine 2020“ in the field of flood risk management (1995-2010) – Action Plan on Floods

Between 1995 and 2010, the Rhine bordering states successfully implemented the Action Plan on Floods and its numerous measures. Many of the measures planned for the period up to 2010 have been effectively and efficiently implemented at the costs estimated beforehand (see technical ICPR report no. 200) The state of implementation is presented in the following tables.

Action Targets of the Action Plan on Floods for the target year 2020 compared to the reference year 1995

Results of the implementation of the Action Plan on Floods by 2010 compared to the reference year 1995

(1) Reduce flood damage risks by 25 % by 2020.

In 2005 and based on rough estimates a reduction of damage risks was stated as compared to the state in 1995. Along the non diked sections of the Rhine, the reduction lies within the target set, however, in the diked sections, it is considerably lower. New and more detailed results are expected for 2014.

(2) Reduction of flood levels - Reduction of extreme flood levels by up to 70 cm by 2020 downstream the impounded section (60 cm due to water retention along the Rhine and approximately 10 cm due to water retention in the Rhine catchment)

Retention measures implemented along the Rhine itself prove to have the greatest effect on the reduction of flood levels of the Rhine. In 2010, approximately 230 million m³ of retention volume were available along the Rhine. This volume and the measures currently planned will however only achieve the maximum target set, i.e. 60 cm, in individual cases and for few floods. The target set would only be permanently achievable, if more retention areas were created and combined with measures improving runoff.

(3) Increasing flood awareness by drafting and spreading flood risk maps for 100 % of flood hazard areas

This target has been achieved for the main stream of the Rhine. The maps on flood hazard and flood risk available since 2001 (see ICPR Rhine Atlas 2001) have contributed to increasing the risk awareness of the population and present a valuable means of raising awareness. Additionally, many further awareness raising measures have been implemented. Based on new national data the atlas has been updated in 2015 (see here).

(4) Improve the flood forecasting system - short term improvement of flood forecasting systems due to international cooperation. Prolong forecasting periods by 100 % by 2005.

Until 2005, the forecasting periods along the Upper and Middle Rhine were already extended from 24 to 48 hours, along the Lower Rhine from 48 to 96 hours. In spite of many new developments in the past years, prolonged forecasting periods cannot be assumed to be as reliable as more short-term forecasting

The flood risk management approach already included into the Action Plan on Floods will be resolutely continued when drafting the flood risk management plan for the Rhine according to the EU Floods Directive (FD) to be presented by 2015. Apart from technical flood proofing measures and the creation of flood retention areas and measures enlarging the river  as well as further measures to be implemented by 2020 and leading to a distinct increase of the retention volume along the Rhine, priority is given to measures aimed at reducing the flood risk, e.g. improving flood prevention and flood awareness (see also Rhine Atlas on Floods 2001) and an as early flood announcement as possible as well as immediate information on flood gauges. According to the EU Floods Directive the risk assessment will not only take into account the protection of man and economy, but also that of environment and cultural heritage.

Effects of climate change are an additional challenge for the future, as flood risks might rise in winter and risks of low water might rise in summer.

Thus, the Rhine bordering countries continue their efforts towards making those concerned by floods aware of flood risks and to prepare them accordingly. The priority target in the Rhine catchment remains to reduce the flood risk in cooperation with those concerned and the numerous actors in this field.