Local Government Profile
Arborg - Iceland
Ásta Stefánsdóttir
Árborg is Getting Ready!
Website of the city : www.arborg.is
Size : 158 km2 sq km
Population : 2010 - 7800
Part Of : Iceland
Hazards : Earthquake, Flood, Tsunami
Arborg is situated on the boundaries of the North-American and Euro-Asian tectonic plates. Significant earthquakes occur with regular intervals. The most recent large-scale earthquakes were a magnitude 6.6 and 6. 3 in 2000 and magnitude 6.3 in 2008. The human consequences were, thankfully, low in this small community, however, there was considerable damage that affected the community as a whole, requiring the attention of the local government and staff. River-flooding has been a serious threat through the years as Selfoss, the largest community in Arborg, is located on the river banks of the river Ölfus. Ölfus has flooded on occasion through the years; the last flood was in 2006. The North Atlantic Ocean provides the southern boundary of the municipality. The coast is a long stretch of low-lying fields with two small coastal villages, so sea-level rise due to global warming is a concern in the area. Erosion from storm surges along the coast and river banks is also of high concern. There are no volcanoes located within the municipality boundaries, however, volcanoes such as Eyjafjallajökull, Hekla and Hengill rise majestically to the east, north and west of Arborg with their threatening ash-fall. Multi-hazard phenomena are also a problem. The Katla volcano east of Arborg (which can erupt at any time) is likely to produce lahars that will flow to the sea, creating an underwater landslide near the coast, resulting in a tsunami that could severely affect the coastal villages of Arborg.
Arborg has through the years been involved in various risk reduction activities. For example the Building and Safety Department ensures that buildings are built according to design. Sea-walls and land-use planning has been an important part of risk reduction in Arborg. Measures have been taken to reduce risks from the impact of flooding on the sewage system. Increasing the hot-water reservoir to reduce the risk of the town losing all its hot water during a major earthquake or another disaster is another example, (hot water in Iceland is pumped directly from the ground and use to heat houses). Arborg runs a fire department that is proactive in risk reduction (recently ran a campaign regarding brush fires). In the wake of the May 2008 earthquakes, Arborg established a municipality relief and recovery plan containing pre-determined teams and standard operating procedures within the local institutions in order to be better prepared for the next event, - which happened to be a manmade disaster when the banking system collapsed 7th October 2008. The new system was utilized successfully to evaluate and monitor the affects in the community in order to plan interventions. This new system was based on a research project on long-terms guideline for municipalities due to natural disasters; an initiative lead by Rainrace consulting service and the University of Iceland. The intervention plan focuses on the short and long-term response of a disaster.