If you're in Chamonix at the moment you might have noticed a few strange things happening in certain parts of the Arve river that runs into the centre of town.
Big mechanical diggers have been working in the river near the tennis courts over the past few days, on the stretch towards Les Praz as well as in the centre near Rue des Moulins.
At first it appeared that there was some kind of pathway being formed on one side of the river - Is it a new walkway? Is it a new bike track? No, it turns out that the river bottom is being dredged and cleared of rocks and glacial deposits, to help reduce the volume of water and therefore potential flooding in the centre of Chamonix.
Over time rocks and debris builds up and raise the riverbed, making flooding more likely to occur. Close monitoring of the river levels and the stability of the banks takes place every year and measurements taken in January highlighted that it was time to dredge the river again. The last time this was done was back in 2010.
The dredging will be carried out on the river between the golf course in Les Praz, towards and right through Chamonix centre, Chamonix Sud and as far as the bridge at Les Gaillands. In the region of 21,000 m3 of material is anticipated to be dug out of the river, with the work due to finish in May this year.