Friday, January 22, 2010

Engineers advice after Albanian floods Start dredging the river

Dredging Today: British engineers are advising the Albanian government after several villages in Shkodra, north west Albania, flooded due to heavy rainfall and melting snow. A delegation from project development company Zumax A G, with assistance from British and Swiss engineers, has just returned from Albania. The team visited the region to assess the situation and develop plans to overcome the flooding.

After days of heavy rains and melting snow the public water system has been contaminated by sewerage. World Vision is working with local agencies to provide emergency sources of clean water and will continue to monitor and assist with water supply issues during the recovery phase. 4,000 people were evacuated from the region. 10,270ha of farmland and seven villages have been flooded.

The Zumax team met Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha last week and outlined a three stage plan for the problems. “Zumax has an office in Tirana,” said Zumax project director Philip George. “We’ve developed a good relationship with the government.” Zumax is now preparing a more detailed report for the Prime Minister following the team’s assessments in the region. The report is expected to be delivered tomorrow.

“The main thing will be to improve the flow of the river,” said George. There are three large dams as the river flows down the mountain, and flows are further challenged by the fact that two rivers were diverted into one during the communist era, he said. “The river has become silted up. The first thing is to start dredging the river to get better flows.” George said Zumax will also be advising the government on better strategies for releasing water when needed.

…George said the flooding is a symptom of climate change. “This is very much a case of climate change and the sort of thing that is likely to happen,” he said. Prime Minister Berisha on Wednesday called the situation “a potential catastrophe” and ordered an evacuation. Many families refused to evacuate, fearing they would lose their cattle − the main source of income in rural areas….

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