Articles | Volume 9, issue 4
27 Jul 2009
 | 27 Jul 2009

Extent, perception and mitigation of damage due to high groundwater levels in the city of Dresden, Germany

H. Kreibich, A. H. Thieken, H. Grunenberg, K. Ullrich, and T. Sommer

Abstract. Flood risk analysis and management plans mostly neglect groundwater flooding, i.e. high groundwater levels. However, rising groundwater may cause considerable damage to buildings and infrastructure. To improve the knowledge about groundwater flooding and support risk management, a survey was undertaken in the city of Dresden (Saxony, Germany), resulting in 605 completed interviews with private households endangered by high groundwater levels. The reported relatively low flood impact and damage of groundwater floods in comparison with mixed floods was reflected by its scarce perception: Hardly anybody thinks about the risk of groundwater flooding. The interviewees thought that public authorities and not themselves, should be mainly responsible for preparedness and emergency response. Up to now, people do not include groundwater risk in their decision processes on self protection. The implementation of precautionary measures does not differ between households with groundwater or with mixed flood experience. However, less households undertake emergency measures when expecting a groundwater flood only. The state of preparedness should be further improved via an intensified risk communication about groundwater flooding by the authorities. Conditions to reach the endangered population are good, since 70% of the interviewed people are willing to inform themselves about groundwater floods. Recommendations for an improved risk communication are given.