Brig flood (1993)


Bed load deposits in the town of Brig following a log jam at a bridge. Picture: Debris flow Brig (1), Roberto Loat BAFU 1993

Petrol station submerged by bed load deposits from the river Saltina. Picture: Debris flow Brig (2), Roberto Loat BAFU 1993

Cars buried in bed load deposits from the river Saltina. Picture: Debris flow Brig (3), Jean-Pierre Jordan 1993

This radio/TV shop was destroyed by bed load deposits from the river Saltina. Picture: Debris flow Brig (4), Roberto Loat BAFU 1993

The Saltina Bridge in its normal state. Picture: Saltina-Hubbrücke at Brig (4), BAFU 2003

If there is a risk of flooding, the bridge is raised. Picture: Saltina-Hubbrücke at Brig (5), BAFU 2003

The embankment walls are also raised with the bridge. Picture: Saltina-Hubbrücke at Brig (6), BAFU 2003


In September 1993, several weeks of constant rain were followed by three days of very intensive precipitation which resulted in the river Saltina bursting its banks in the town of Brig. After the flood, meteorologists calculated that the precipitation and discharge values measured in the Saltina catchment area were the highest recorded for the entire 20th century.

Damage caused

The flood behind metre-high piles of sand and sediment on roads, squares and in buildings. Two woman were killed. The total cost of the storm in the Upper Valais region was over CHF 650 million.

The bottleneck in the river course was located right in the centre of the town: sediment and driftwood accumulated at the bridge in Brig-Glis and caused a jam. The Saltina breached its banks and deposited metre-high piles of mud and bedload in the centre of the town.

Measures

The measures taken after the flood event consisted in the construction of two bedload collectors in the catchment area of the torrent, the raising of the embankment wall along the channel and, as the main measure, the construction of an automatic lift bridge at the critical location in Brig-Glis.