Staff of Munich’s City Council introduces the Isar River Restoration Program
Last week, the delegation of Chinese mayors visited the Munich City Hall and discussed the restoration of the Isar River in Munich. The restoration program of the Isar, the mother river of Munich, had been officially implemented since 2000 and has lasted over a period of 11 years. Today, the Isar River plays an essential role for local residents in their daily life as it constitutes major urban green space for relaxation, leisure and entertainment.
Since the 1980s, the citizens of Munich have become increasingly concerned about flood control issues and leisure spaces. Then in 1995, the Isar River Restoration Program was officially launched and led by the Munich Water Authority, although jointly designed and implemented by staff from the Construction Bureau, the Urban Planning and Buildings Regulations Authority, the Environmental Health Agency and the Isar Alliance (a local NGO). The Bavarian state government covered 55 % of the costs, while the remaining expenses (amounting to about 35 million Euro) were sponsored by the Munich city government. Their financial resources were used for construction purposes (28 million) and to repair contaminated soil and to remove the remnants of weapons during the World War II (7 million). The project entered the implementation phase in 2000 and was completed in 2011. The length of the restored river is about 8 kilometers.
The impact of the Isar River flood on Munich. Source: Wasserwirtschaftsamt München, Landeshauptstadt München
The main achievements of the Isar River restoration are summarized as follows:
• Flood protection. Major floods in 2005 had a great impact on the entire catchment area of the Isar River. It is increasingly recognized that restoration measures largely affected the damage caused by floods. Compared to other parts of southern Germany, the flood did not cause significant damage to Munich due to the restoration of the Isar.
• Improve the water quality. The Isar River Restoration Program also helps to improve the water quality of the Isar River, so that residents can swim in it. In order to achieve this goal, all communities close to the Isar have completed an upgrade to add their wastewater treatment plants to the UV germicidal radiation system. These measures have greatly improved water quality. Today, the Isar River has become a popular place for water sports, such as swimming and surfing.
• Repair water and land habitats. Previously fixed canal-style riverbeds have been converted into riverbeds of different widths and lengths, gravel shores, and gravel islands. The restoration plan has expanded the main river course from 50 meters to 90 meters, paralleling the front land and floodplain along the river. It has improved average flow and flood runoff and created more spaces for the river. Steep dams fixed with concrete slabs have been replaced by flat sloping embankments and naturally developed embankments. These measures not only restored the appearance of the Isar River but also improved its longevity.
• Improve living quality. Today, the Isar River has become an attractive public space for citizens of all ages. On the riverside, people can pursue leisure activities and sports including biking, jogging, swimming and surfing. Particularly, the artificial surf pier has turned into a popular spot.