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Tyrol to invest millions of euros to slow down the Drava river

Tyrol to invest millions of euros to slow down the Drava river

This could have major ecological benefits and it could make the river a lot safer

Yesterday, the Tyrol state government in Austria announced they are going to invest in a reconstruction of the Drava river bed between Linz and the border with the State of Carinthia to the east. The project aims to make the river flow slower, as years of agricultural land management has straightened out a lot of the natural bends.

According to local authorities, slowing down the flow of the Drava will create natural layers of flood protection for the valley where it flows.

The Tyrolean government plans to invest 1.55 million euros from the COVID-19 European pandemic relief package, as an attempt to strengthen local climate goals.

Slow river flow

The Drau, as the river is called in German, has been subject to a lot of human intervention, especially in the stretch between Linz and the border with Carinthia. A lot of that is due to the fact, that it runs through a long and narrow valley where land for agriculture is limited.

The river used to have floodplains and bends, but, for the sake of practicality, over the years, a lot of the bends were straightened out and the river bed narrowed to counteract healthy floodings. This has led to a certain imbalance in the natural state of the Drava and due to its current state, flooding is now less regular but far more volatile.

The authorities are taking a more holistic approach and are trying to restore a certain degree of naturalness to the river, by widening it and allowing it to form sandbanks, gravel banks and floodplains. According to Joseph Geisler, the Deputy Governor of Tyrol, quoted by the Austrian National Broadcasting Agency (ORF), flood protection and ecological water development now go hand in hand.

The main tool for strengthening the ecological and structural impact of the project is to widen the riverbed. This would reduce the speed of the water, lowering the risk of heavy damages from flooding and contributing to more fauna being drawn to the river.

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