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Netizens gush over German flood control ‘masterpiece,' media responds

By Jiang Jie (People's Daily Online)    15:52, July 08, 2016

(PLA soldiers carry sandbags for flood control. Photo:81.cn)

(Photo of the spundwand in Grein, Austria that goes viral)

As public outcry over China's insufficient flood control measures has increased, voices expressing enthusiasm and admiration for Germany's deployment of the Spundwand, a so-called “masterpiece” of flood control, have also been multiplying.

Posts on Sina Weibo have criticized China for using less advanced technology than many Western countries, and instead relying on the physical strength of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) during the floods. Many compared photos of PLA soldiers laboriously stacking sandbags to reinforce dams with photos taken in Austria, where water was kept out of residential areas by what appeared to be a metal fence.

The fences in Austria were later identified by some German-speaking netizens as Spundwand, a technology that was employed in Grein, Austria during heavy flooding there in 2013.

Spundwand is a flood prevention dam with a foundation that goes as deep as 20 meters underground, according to Vienna-based news site Der Standard. Even Spundwand is not infallible, however. According to several posts on Reddit, which were cited by Xinhua News Agency, the 15-centimeter-thick Spundwand fence was found to have permitted some water leakage even after it was erected.

Spundwand was first used in Koln, Germany in 1984 and it costs up to 1 million euros per kilometer, Nandu Daily reported. China first introduced its own version of Spundwand in 2002 in Harbin, Heilongjiang province. In 2012, Shanghai also utilized an 18-millimeter-thick version of Spundwand made from glass and reinforced concrete, Xinhua reported.

“We acknowledge the important role science and innovation can play in disaster relief, but technological masterpieces are not a cure-all,” Xinhua noted. Nevertheless, many netizens are still wondering why China’s Spundwand-like technology is not more widely used.

As for the sandbags that so many scorned, a local newspaper in Austria reported that people also used sandbags to strengthen the dam in 2013. In 2014, when the U.K. was hit by a flood, even Prince William reportedly helped to stack sandbags, the Xinhua article noted.

“Sandbags are cheap and easy to use. They are used so widely because they only require a bag, a shovel, some sand and human labor. But sandbags are nevertheless proven to be reliable and effective for the purpose of flood control,” the Xinhua article read. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor:Jiang Jie,Bianji)

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