We're in the village of Volders, looking south with the Inn at our back, and we're admiring a beautiful mountain stream. Well, it used to be a beautiful mountain stream. Now it's a rock-walled channel draining water out of a fast-developing village, as the crane in the background attests. Gone are the rocks and trees that would have slowed flow of water, and gone are the adjacent marshes that would have stored water during heavy rains.

        So is this good or bad? From the local perspective, it's mostly good. Channelizaton drains rainwater faster and so makes flooding less likely in these mountain villages and towns. From the perspective downriver, it's bad. As tributaries are increasingly channelized, water is delivered faster into the Inn. Floods that would have been spread over weeks and not risen high now occur over a few days and rise higher as more water per hour moves through the system. The effort to lessen flooding upstream increases flooding downstream. That effect became most apparent in August 2002, when heavy rains in the Alps led to little flooding there but tremendous floods on the Danube.



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