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Dam Complex Complete At Last

Published: August 17, 2011 (Issue # 1670)



  • City Governor Valentina Matviyenko, left, and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin at the opening of the new $3.6 billion dam.
    Photo: ALEXEI DRUZHININ / RIA-NOVOSTI / The Associated Press

St. Petersburg is finally protected from potentially devastating flooding after the St. Petersburg Flood Protection Complex (FPC) was officially completed Friday.

The complex, located between the village of Gorskaya and the citys naval suburb of Kronshtadt on Kotlin Island, is designed tohold atbay water levels rising up to5 meters.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who took part in the opening ceremony, said the construction was worthy of St. Petersburg.

Its a grandiose construction. There is some technological beauty in it, Putin was cited by Interfax as saying.

The opening of the dam was timed to coincide with the launch of a tunnel running underneath a new shipping canal to connect Kotlin Island and the southern and northern parts of the city. The six-lane tunnel is both a part of the dam complex, and the final part of the citys 140-kilometer Ring Road.

The construction of the FPC was one of the citys biggest and most complex projects, and regularly faced financial problems and ecological scandals.

St. Petersburg has been hit by more than 300 floods in the citys 308-year history. It was a flood in 1955 that pushed the Soviet government to consider protecting the city with a dam.

Construction finally began in late 1979. The plan was to build a 25-kilometer dam complex that would curve around the Neva Bay to protect the city from the gulf beyond, but it was halted in the late 1980s because of ecological worries and a lack of funds.

In 2001, the Dutch government and the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development sponsored initial research into the possibility of reviving the plans for the dams construction. Construction work resumed in 2005.

The protection barrier can close within thirty minutes of an alarm signal. Meteorologists warn of a possible flood 48 hours and then 24 hours beforehand. Meteorologists and dam workers keep a close eye on the water level in the final 24 hours, and if it looks set to rise 1.6 meters above the norm, the dam is closed.

The complex includes 11 dams, sluices that allow gulf water to go back and forth in measured quantities, two ship-passing facilities that also work as flood gates and a six-lane automobile road with bridges, a tunnel and transport interchanges.

Experts say completion of the barrier will save the city substantial sums of money.

Alexander Boutovsky, senior consultant and business development director for the Coastal and Rivers Division inRussia for the Dutch company of Royal Haskoning, said last year that the dam saves the city more than $100 million every year in potential flood damages. Haskoning provided engineering and consultancy services for almost a decade on the flood protection complex.

Concerns about environmental damage to the fragile ecology of the Neva delta had to be taken into account during the dams construction. There was also the significant problem of unexploded World War II mines in the area.

The project cost $3.6 billion in total, Interfax reported approximately as much as the worlds biggest flood defense construction in the Netherlands. Londons dam, built in 1984, cost $2.5 billion, Novaya Gazeta newspaper reported.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in Downton Abbey if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russias best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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