Tourism, Recreation and Flood Prevention

7 February 2023 | Blog

Our project group visited in HZ University of Applied Sciences at Vlissingen last November. Our program included a visit at the Delta Works which consists of 13 sections. Together they form the largest flood protection system in the world. In a visitor center, on an artificial island called Neeltje Jans, we learnt the reasons why Delta Works have been built, how human ingenuity have solved engineering problems along the way and how important part of local history the 1953 North Sea flood is.

Flood prevention have had important role to play in the development of South Ostrobothnia region in Finland as well. Whereas Delta Works have been built to keep water out from the land, South Ostrobothnia region have taken steps to control the flow of water into the sea. In fact, it was the very same year 1953 which can be traced to be the starting point of flood prevention in the region. In 1953, region suffered from two significant floods, first flood was caused by melting snow during the Easter and second flood was caused by long lasting rain season during summer.

Kyrönjoki river, which flows through South Ostrobothnia, is today harnessed by flood prevention mechanisms such as multiple artificial lakes, raised banks, water pumps, artificial rapid and hydroelectric power plants. Planning and building process took more than fifty years. Last project to be completed was Malkakoski, artificial rapid, 2004. Nowadays, the artificial lakes are important part of area’s tourism and recreation. For example, at the shores of Kalajärvi (artificial lake) locates an award-winning camping area and the largest recreational area and route network locates next to Kyrkösjärvi (artificial lake).

Sustainability issues have now taken a larger role in Kyrönjoki project. River was highly polluted due to untreated wastewater let into the river, even so that fisheries thought that the river was beyond saving before the project started. Today, artificial lakes are popular recreational fishing locations and Malkakoski rapid includes fish steps that allow fishes to swim up-river to spawn.

Our region’s flood prevention measures have been the largest flood prevention project in Finland. Although, there are some significant tourism companies included, we have not been able to tell the story of human ingenuity in the project and how important part of local history the project has been. Sometimes it is better to go abroad to understand what you have at home.

Malkakoski artificial rapid
Photo: Courtesy of City of Seinäjoki

Text: Ilkka Latomäki, Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences

Photo in the beginning of the page:
Kyrkösjärvi artificial lake
Photo: Courtesy of City of Seinäjoki

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