In Wals-Siezenheim (Flachgau), work on the renaturation and widening of the Saalach has begun. The million dollar project stretches over a length of two kilometers and WILL be implemented on both the Salzburg and Bavarian sides.
Excavators have started clearing work along the Saalach. A tributary of the Saalach will flow where there are still trees in the future, explains Christian Wiesenegger, project manager from the State of Salzburg: “This preparatory work is now necessary in order to subsequently remove the forest floor and gravel so that there can be space for the water.” Gas pipes in the floor must be laid for this.
Flood protection is improved
The Saalach still looks like a waterway. This is exactly a problem with major flood events: the river bed overflows and the embankments can no longer withstand the pressure. The widening also improves flood protection, according to the state. Both the ecology in the water and on the bank will be improved by the renaturation and the resulting connection to the alluvial forest.
Eight million euro project
The plans for the renovation are many years old, and the project has had to struggle with startups again and again. “It is primarily an interference with nature,” says state environmental lawyer Gishild Schaufler, “but in the end it is a good result for the environment”. According to water expert Christian Wiesenegger, the whole project was well coordinated with environmental protection in advance. The entire project costs eight million euros. The Republic of Austria and the Free State of Bavaria share these costs. The renaturation of the Saalach should be finished in 2024.