Dams fail future climate target

173 dams in the highest consequence class are potentially vulnerable to floods

Photo: Holav / Wikimedia Commons Norway has a lot of water to deal with in normal times—like this larger than usual spring flood in Hønefoss in 2013. It’s critical that the nation’s dams withstand whatever climate change will bring.

Photo: Holav / Wikimedia Commons
Norway has a lot of water to deal with in normal times—like this larger than usual spring flood in Hønefoss in 2013. It’s critical that the nation’s dams withstand whatever climate change will bring.

Sarah Bostock
The Foreigner

Thirty-nine percent of Norway’s dams in the highest consequence class are potentially vulnerable to floods, a Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE) survey shows.

“It’s important for the NVE that we have an overview of which dams are most at risk regarding an altered climate so that the NVE can prioritize its supervision in a good way,” Ingunn Åsgard Bendiksen, director of supervision and preparedness says in a statement.

445 of Norway’s 4,750 waterways and other waterway structures are in classes 3 and 4 (the top two levels).

Three quarters (333) of these are located in areas where climate change is expected to lead to bigger floods in the future.

Most of these facilities have a good safety margin. However, the directorate’s concern regarding the 39 percent (173) that are potentially vulnerable to flooding is mainly due to the dams’ locations and type.

Foundation conditions and systems in place for flood diversion are also included in the assessment.

Moreover, the number of dams in classes 3 and 4 can change over time.

“Norwegian dams are safe, and must also be so in a future climate. It’s decisive that dams can withstand larger floods,” concludes Bendiksen.

The NVE’s survey forecasts that the greatest increase in flooding would probably occur in Nordland, Møre og Romsdal, Sogn og Fjordane, Hordaland, Rogaland, Aust Agder, and Vest Agder Counties.

The full report can be found at publikasjoner.nve.no/rapport/2015/rapport2015_94.pdf (in Norwegian).

This article was originally published on The Foreigner. To subscribe to The Foreigner, visit theforeigner.no.

It also appeared in the Nov. 27, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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