Water NOT wanted - Coastal Floods and Flooding Protection in Denmark

Carlo Sass Sørensen

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For living and for leisure we see water as an asset. We are increasingly in favour of living close to water; be it a mountain stream, a tranquil lakeshore, a setting directly on the ocean foreshore or overlooking the ocean scenery. We use our proximity to water for many recreational purposes today. Water is nice!
There is a tendency for coastal migration, and a large part of the urbanisation and economic development is taking place in coastal regions throughout the world. This “coastal squeeze” means that we increasingly are exposing ourselves to the forces and hazards of nature in terms of coastal erosion, storm surges, coastal inundation, salination of aquifers etc. Whereas some regions already suffer today, challenges ahead seem immense with projections of sea level rise putting further pressure on our coasts.
Although Denmark is normally perceived as a country with a limited vulnerability towards coastal flooding, the country has experienced severe storm surges throughout history, and hitherto safe areas will become increasingly at risk this century as the climate changes. Historically a seafarers’ nation, Denmark has always been connected with the sea. From medieval time ports and quays have hosted activities related to maritime trades and harbour workers’ quarters. For the past two or three decades these areas have in many towns been rapidly transformed into high-end market housing and office facilities. With this transformation, more values have been put at risk and the local acceptance of floods has decreased from a “this is a natural consequence of living by the sea” to an explicit: Water Not Wanted!
This paper provides a brief overview of floods and flooding protection issues in Denmark (Ch. 2 & Ch. 3), the current legislation (Ch. 4), and discusses challenges in relation to climate change adaptation, risk reduction, and to potential ways of rethinking flooding protection in strategies that also incorporate other uses (Ch. 5).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSicherung von Dämmen, Deichen und Stauanlagen : Handbuch für Theorie und Praxis
EditorsRichard A. Herrmann, Jürgen Jensen
Place of PublicationSiegen
PublisherUniversität Siegen
Publication date2016
ISBN (Print)978-3-936533-67-5
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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