Climate change isn’t just a speculative myth anymore. It is the face of reality itself staring down at us through the increasing number of natural disasters happening around the world. The typhoons along the US coast, the melting of glaciers and ice caps, and the yearly floods across major rivers of the world show us that we have to work harder and smarter to keep this disaster at bay. One of the main causes of concern is the proximity of cities to rivers that might spill their banks anytime. Raising their embankments is a complicated and lengthy process that can probably never be completed on time. This Austrian town of Machland was lying in the danger zone, so what local engineers did was to elevate the embankments with the help of a portable reinforced metal wall that runs for miles. But how can a wall this thin hold up to 15 feet high stream of water? It is an engineering feat from the Austrian engineers indeed!
You have to keep in mind the kind of force water can exert. Fifteen feet of water plus a strong current are able to exert up to a million pascals of pressure on the embankment so let us see how the design works so we can try and implement it in our countries as well.
It is essentially a vertical cantilever design where each post is placed in a massive five-meter deep foundation comprised of Aluminium and concrete. Essentially, the foundation here is bigger than the wall itself. This amazing foundation helps keep the thousands of cusecs of water at bay. It is a part of the greater Machland Dam super extension that extends an incredible 70 kilometers along the coast and floodplain itself. However, nothing is perfect as even this wall was unable to stop several localities from the flood and as a result, they cannot benefit from the wall, and their homes get affected.
This wall has survived the brunt of the flooding in recent times, and a more permanent solution would be to make them higher and from concrete. We know the situation is only going to get worse over the years, and eventually stronger and bigger waves can destroy these flood walls and sweep across the unfortunate town. But, we know how people behave when faced with natural disasters. It is only when it hits them that they begin to think of its solutions. The citizens of Marchland still believe that their views shouldn’t be blocked and thus, throwing the government in a quandary. We will see more of this disaster mitigation engineering in the future as the planet gets warmer and weather becomes extreme.