Stuttgart (dpa / lsw) – For Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann (Greens), the creation of flood retention areas on the Upper Rhine is an act of solidarity towards the people living downstream. Floods could endanger large cities such as Karlsruhe, Mannheim or Ludwigshafen and, in the worst case, cause billions in damage, the head of government said on Tuesday.
The Integrated Rhine Program for flood protection is to be completed on the Baden-Württemberg side by 2028, announced Environment Minister Franz Untersteller (Greens), who had previously reported to the cabinet. Almost 50 percent have already been implemented with investments of around 560 million euros. The total cost of building the 13 retention areas is around 1.7 billion euros. The facilities range from Weil-Breisach in the south to the Rheinschanzinsel between Karlsruhe and Mannheim.
The Rhine should be given more space again during floods. “In times of climate change that is more important than ever,” said Untersteller. All 13 retention areas together should be able to hold 167 million cubic meters of water. This corresponds to the content of a square lake with an edge length of five kilometers and almost seven meters deep. If the retention areas fill up during floods, the water level rises less sharply downstream. Before the Upper Rhine was straightened in the 19th century, the river was able to flood vast floodplains and the water drained away much more slowly.
According to the Minister, the program makes a contribution to nature conservation. He will make space for many species. The implementation of the program is taking a long time because there are fears, resistance and legal proceedings in some places. In France, the planned measures have already been fully implemented.