Twelve projects, classified as “special and important works of national level” (special projects), along with several additional projects of the Region of Attica and the forestry services, comprise the Region’s adaptation plans to protect it from severe flooding, in light of increased climate risk and related extreme weather events.

Concerns over the risk of floods have come to the forefront following the catastrophic flooding of the Thessaly region in September, which left many dead and destroyed homes, properties and much of Greece’s second largest tract of farmland.

Minor flooding was noted as well in the Attica Region, despite receiving only a fraction of the rainfall of Thessaly, leading many to wonder what will happen during more severe storms, particularly as one of Athens’ main rivers, Kifissos, is at catchment capacity.

The heart of the strategy to protect Athens involves completing works that started in the 1990s on a river called Escatias, located in the northwest of Athens. The projects related to this river are considered to be in their third and final phase and have a budget of 86.2 million euros, although an additional six-month extension has been requested. Once the works on Escatias are completed, the waters will flow into a portion of Kifissos located under the national highway.

As Kifissos is at its limits, a floodwater retention basin will be created to hold back water for a few hours in the case of extreme rainfall. The water from the retention basin will then be released in a control manner into a section of the main Kifissos river that flows under the National Road.

The process for the creation of the retention basin is reportedly underway, with the Ministry of Environment and Energy’s Directorate for Environmental Licensing issuing environmental conditions for the project in September as the government prepares to launch a tender process for its creation.

Works on the other rivers in the Athens basin are at various stages of planning, tendering and implementation and carry a total budget of over 243 million euros, with several of them expected to be completed within the next few years.

Aside from special projects, four large studies are also underway and include: updating the strategic master plan for antiflooding measures in the Attika Region (budget 449.163 million euros), conducting a study on flood protection in the catchment areas of Marathon (located northeast of Athens) and the Kifissos river (budget 1.4 million euros), and updating and completing the existing flood protection studies on the Podonifti river in Athens (budget 1.3 million euros).

It should be noted that other flood risk reduction projects are underway and generally fall under the auspices of the various Regions of Greece. That being said, other authorities are also involved, such as municipalities, the Ministry of Climate Crisis and the General Secretariat for Civil Protection.

The overlap of responsibilities has historically been proven to create administrative, management and coordination complexity. For example, an announcement of the Region of Attica noted that it is responsible for the cleaning and remove of soil, construction waste and debris from riverbeds, but municipalities must clear waste and debris from alongside of waterways.