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The Floodway System in the city of Wrocław in Poland is currently undergoing modernisation. Due to the size of the project and level of technology being used, the works have been divided into four contracts and seven different investments. Among the ‘heroes’ saving the city from future flooding are a number of Doosan excavators. What do the works consist of and will the River Oder continue to pose a threat to Wrocław?

Wrocław is called the Venice of the North, which is a title both honourable but also troublesome. The city is in danger of flooding by the Oder from almost every side. It is a tourist attraction that is sometimes a threat to the city’s inhabitants. Hence, the authorities could no longer delay the reinforcement of the flood defenses. It is said that the construction of Wrocław’s stadium for the Euro 2012 football championship is nothing compared to the large-scale and extremely complex modernisation of the Wrocław Floodway System. It is unsurprising as this is one of the largest systems of waterways and hydrotechnical structures within an urban area in Europe. Originally, the Floodway System was designed to ensure that a flood wave with a flow of up to 2400 m3/s did not pose a threat to the people and buildings but, unfortunately, the floods of 1997 clearly showed that such defenses were simply not enough.

In order to prevent the situation from 1997 and 2000 from happening again (the city was flooded by an enormous flood wave), any changes have to be radical and implemented with great determination and on a massive scale. A flood wave exceeding 3600 m3/s is a major threat to the city – and it is worth noting that this alarming level has already been exceeded more than once. As a result, works are being carried out on the hydrotechnical structures, in the river bed, on Wrocław’s bridges and in the city centre. They are being carried out by a team of nearly 900 people. It is clear that this costly but more than necessary infrastructure investment needs to be implemented. Apart from increased protection, the city will also gain in attractiveness for its inhabitants and tourists. New paths for pedestrians and cyclists as well as amphitheatre stairs by the river will be constructed. Within the next three years, approx. PLN 1.5 billion (375 million Euro) will be allocated to this project.

Many carefully selected machines have been employed for this project. The contractors have to meet strict deadlines, but the water and land environment is not the easiest to work in. Doosan excavators, including DX255LC and DX340LC models, have been chosen among the best machinery for the job. Depending on needs, they are being used to carry out various works, from sand excavation and loading, through to slope shaping and laying nonwoven geotextiles covered with rock.

The DX255LC excavator is equipped with a 5700 mm boom, a 2900 mm arm and a bucket with a capacity of 0.92 m3. It also features a fuel-efficient, direct-injection Doosan DL06 ‘Common Rail’ diesel engine. The engine is integrated with the state-of-the-art Electronic Power Optimising System (EPOS), which optimises machine performance while reducing fuel consumption.

The second, larger excavator, the DX340LC model, has a Doosan DL08 ‘Common Rail’ diesel engine. This machine has a 6500 mm boom, a 3200 mm arm and a bucket with a capacity of 1.48 m3.

“The machines are compliant with all necessary standards. They make the work really efficient,” says Emilian Marczak, an operator on one of the Doosan excavators. He summed it up: “The best thing about my excavator is the cab: it is spacious and comfortable, and provides excellent visibility in all directions.”

The modernisation project encompasses seven different infrastructure investments, all of which will lead to one goal – flood prevention. The first of the four contracts was entrusted to the consortium Energopol-Szczecin S.A, a well-known contractor in the hydrotechnical engineering market and the largest construction business in the West Pomerania region of Poland, with many Doosan excavators in its machinery fleet.

The contractor has turned the previously quiet river landscape into a huge construction site. Crawler excavators, dumpers and articulated haulers work throughout the week and at weekends to complete the project on time. When the works are finished, even the heaviest rainfall will not trouble Wrocław inhabitants, and the Doosan ‘Orange Heroes’ will go on to save another city somewhere else in the world.