Beavers destroy anti-flood wall

Photo: D. Gordon E. Robertson, Creative Commons 3.0

A flood-wall that protects some 4000 residents of the South Moravian town of Břeclav is in a hazardous condition, after beavers damaged an important part of the city’s flood protection system. The town is now faced with repairs that will cost more than 30 million Czech crowns.

In the small south Moravian town of Břeclav, beavers are causing some serious trouble for the residents. The industrious rodents have been chewing away at a flood wall that is meant to protect the town when water levels of the nearby Dyje river rise. During a routine check-up, water management experts found some 50 burrows in a crucial 1000 meter section of the flood wall. Consequences caused by just three beaver families who have settled there could be dire, says the head of the environmental department of Břeclav town hall, Vilém Vyhnálek.

“This winter, burrows with ventilation started to appear in the anti-flood wall in the old part of the town. In the event of high waters in the river Dyje the flood wall could break and the majority of the 3000-4000 residents of Stará Břeclav would be in danger.”

The floodwall, built in 1922, and last reconstructed in 1989, will now have to undergo serious reconstruction. The company Povodí Moravy will administer the necessary repairs. Povodí’s spokeswoman Jana Kučerová says an analysis of the damage is under way.

“It’s necessary to start the flood protection wall repairs immediately in the places where the beaver holes are. The project documentation is now being prepared and once it’s finished, we will know the cost.”

But it is not just a question of fixing the damage. The locals need to consider what’s to be done to protect the new structure. The European Beaver is a protected species. There are about 2000 beavers in the Czech Republic and shooting them is prohibited. Catching and moving the local rodents elsewhere –which seems like an obvious solution -is not an option, says Aleš Vorel of the Czech University of Life Sciences in Prague.

Photo: D. Gordon E. Robertson,  Creative Commons 3.0
“Removing animals from these parts is not a good solution because the area around the city of Břeclav is full of beavers, it has the largest population of beavers in the Czech Republic, so if there was a gap in the population immediately other animals from the surrounding area would fill it.”

To keep beavers away, the banks of the river have to be lined with rocks. This alone will come up to about 30 million Czech crowns. It is not yet clear how much it will cost to fortify the damaged wall. Both the town hall of Břeclav and Povodí Moravy hope to determine the final price tag of the repairs soon.