Estonia has 15 significant flood risk regions

A study commissioned by the Ministry of the Environment has mapped 15 regions in the country that are at significant risk of flooding. Measures to reduce these risks have begun to be developed.

“The Ministry of the Environment’s study revealed that the greatest risk of flooding is connected to the bad state of barriers and similar structures,” explained Indrek Tamberg, director of the ministry’s Water Department. “They are no longer able to impede the flow of water and need to be rebuilt. But in doing so we have to make sure that we at least preserve or, even better, improve the ecological condition of the waterways, while taking into account the interests of the people who live nearby.”

The Ministry of the Environment has already developed a project evaluating the effect on the environment of planned activities with barriers and developing measures to guarantee environmental safety. The project also proposes the construction of access ways for fish in 35 barrier structures. Tamberg says that another of the goals of the project, which is being partly financed through the European Union’s Cohesion Fund, is to update the barriers in such a way that they can also be used in future to obtain hydropower.

Situations are considered to be significant flood risks when they may endanger people, property, the environment and the economy. There are two types of regions in Estonia at significant risk of flooding: coastal, bank or shoreline areas where the risks are associated with rising water levels in the seas, rivers or lakes; and mainland areas where the risks are associated with the barriers situated on rivers and reservoirs. A unique problem for Estonia is the flooding that occurs in Ida-Viru, which is connected to rising water levels in closed underground mines.


The coastal areas at significant risk of flooding include those around the Bays of Pärnu and Haapsalu, the southern coast of Saaremaa and the southern and western coasts of Hiiumaa.

Bank and shoreline risk areas include Lake Vagula-Tamula, Lake Ülemiste, some parts of Lake Peipsi, the lower reaches of the Pärnu River, Emajõgi River from Vorbuse to Kaagvere, Võhandu River from Lake Vahula to Kirumpää, and the Narva River from Vasknarva to the village of Jaama.

Barriers at risk of flooding include those of the Narva hydroelectric power station (HPS), Linnamäe HPS on the Kunda River, Kamari HPS on the Põltsamaa River, Saesaare HPS on the Ahja River, Tudulinna HPS on the Tagajõgi River and Kotka HPS on the Valgejõgi.


More information about regions at significant risk of flooding can be found on the ministry’s website at

Source: Estonian Ministry of the Environment

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