The government of the Czech Republic has decided to build a dam that will cause a valley to flood and submerge the village of Nove Herminovy. Meanwhile, villagers go on with their lives: they go to work, come home, spend time with family and friends and celebrate annual events.

Nobody knows exactly when the dam will be built or for how long they will be able to remain in their homes.

A report on Czech television (February 16, 2011) stated:

“Petr Nečas’s cabinet today approved the release of further funds for the construction of the Nové Heřminovy reservoir that is intended to be part of the flood-prevention measures on the upper reaches of the River Opava. If there is enough money in the budget in the coming years, the dam should be built in the years 2016 to 2020. The total cost will be CZK 7.5 billion.”

In April 2014, Radek Sijka (ƚ2015), mayor of Nové Heřminovy was quoted by Czech News Agency:

“We still insist that a more viable solution could have been found if all the options for flood-prevention measures on the River Opava had been assessed, and not just the dam. They decided to go for one single giant project to protect two villages and one town.”

In the same report, Marian Jurečka, agriculture minister of the Czech Republic said:

“I admit that at this moment the preparation of this project has come so far, with 90 percent of the land bought up and more than half a billion koruna of public money spent, that I almost can’t imagine stopping the project.”

One year later, Jiří Pagáč, managing director of Odra River Basin Administration, a state-run firm said:

“If the municipality of Nové Heřminovy thinks they can still stop the construction project or scrap the dam, I regard that as absolutely unrealistic right now, as the state has already invested a huge amount of money in it. We have already bought up land for around CZK 450 million, and other money has been spent on the project preparation. There really is no way back any more.”

Nové Heřminovy is a village between Krnov and Bruntál in the northeast of the Czech Republic. It is an unremarkable place, but perhaps all the more important for that. For me, it is an inspiring and simultaneously tragi-comic scene with an uncertain future where, despite all the tension and vanity of human activity, I found what might be the most fundamental thing: an ordinary way of life and place to live in the best sense of the word.

In the coming years, part of the village is supposed to give way to a dam. You now have the chance to review the NH20 photographic series aimed at monitoring this intervention in the countryside and human lives.

Photographs give us an interesting and realistic glimpse into the rural life of this eastern European country, their social conditions and the absurdity of government decisions these people have to deal with.

—Imrich Veber