Paris Needs Better Flood Defences

A report released today by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which is based in Paris, said that the city hasn’t invested enough in flood defences over recent years.

Paris suffered from a major flood in 1910, and to a lesser extent in 1925 and 1955. Those flood events showed exactly what could happen to the city when the River Seine overflows and at the time prompted Paris authorities to build up the city’s flood defences, which included various dams and civil engineering works.

However, the OECD report pointed out that little has been done to shore up flood defences in Paris since the early 1990s. Furthermore, developments – both commercial and residential – have been built in flood zones along the river. A majority of cases of urban flooding over the last few years show that concrete means floods.

The OECD report said that

“Major investment has been modest in recent decades, and it would appear that protection is not at the same level of standard as in comparable OECD countries, particularly in Europe,”

The report goes on to say just how crippling a sever flood event would be for Paris and France generally. Paris and the surrounding Ile-de-France region account for about 30% of the country’s GDP. A flood disaster in Paris would cripple the city, affect 5 million people and threaten almost half a million jobs. In other words, Paris is too big to flood.

“The impact on Paris of a major flood would be much greater today than a century ago, with serious economic and social consequences on top of the temporary disruption and material losses,” said Rolf Alter, Director of the OECD’s Public Governance and Territorial Development Directorate. “The better Paris prepares itself to manage this risk and improve its resilience, the less vulnerable it will be, to the benefit of the city and the country.”

Paris Flood 1910
Paris Flood 1910

Source: OECD