Citizens preparing class action against power company because of floods

The Czech government has made public an official preliminary estimate of damage caused by the sweeping floods - 60 to 90 billion Czech crowns which is approximately 2 to 3 billion USD. The catastrophe changed the lives of thousands upon thousands across the country. Many people are asking why, and are refusing to put all the blame on an unfortunate and unprecedented meteorological situation. More from Vladimir Tax.

A group of citizens whose property was destroyed by the raging floods over the past ten days are considering filing a class action against companies, municipalities and the Vltava Basin Authority who they believe are responsible for the devastating effects of the floods. They claim the main culprit is the national power utility CEZ which operates a total of 12 hydro-electric plants in a system of 8 river dams - the so-called Vltava cascade.

According to the daily Mlada Fronta Dnes, the affected people claim that the hydro-electric plants along the river were producing electricity up to the last minute and water was let out only very slowly so that there was no room for the flood wave.

The south Bohemian town of Rimov wants to sue the Vltava Basin Authority. The town claims that people were not informed about the approaching flood wave in time but water managers must have known about it, because they allowed a higher than critical amount of water to flow through the Rimov dam.

CEZ director for hydro-electric plants Ales Tomec considers the accusations complete nonsensical. He says out of the twelve power stations that are normally on-line, only two were actually working when the floods hit the hardest.

Water managers of the Vltava basin also reject all accusations. According to the general director of the Vltava Basin Authority, Petr Hudler, most of the dams were emptier than usual at the start of the floods and they were able to hold some of the floodwater. He says the main reason why the Vltava cascade could not prevent the floods is that the dams are too small. If all of them were empty, they could hold one billion cubic metres of water, but the amount of water in Vltava during the floods was about three times higher.