The largest and most economically important river basin in Italy is the Po Valley, stretching from the Alps in the North of the country to the Adriatic Sea on the East coast. It comprises the Po River basin, the eastern lowlands of Veneto and Friuli and the south-eastern basins of Emilia–Romagna. Nearly half of the national GDP is produced in the basin area from one third the country’s industries, including a large agricultural output. It is also significantly populated, with 17 million people living within its eight regions. Flooding has traditionally been a risk in this area, with protection provided by the likes of embankments, hydraulic works, and levees.
Specifically, in the lower part of the Po River, flood-prone areas have been protected by a complex system of embankments and hydraulic works that are part of the complex flood defense system in the Po Valley, extending for almost 3000 km as a result of a tradition of river embanking lasting centuries. Within the south-eastern part of the basin, one of the most at-risk area for river flooding, the city of Modena (Emilia Romagna) can be found. The city is flanked by two tributaries to the Po River, these being the Secchia River to the west and the Panaro River to the east. A significant flooding event occurred on this area in 2014, when on January 19th, in combination with a long-lasting stratiform rainfall event, a portion of the artificial levee protecting the area from the Secchia River collapsed, with water breaching and inundating the surrounding plain.