Kristianstad is a medium-sized municipality in the south of Sweden with a population of approximately 82,000 inhabitants. The river Helgeå runs through the metropolitan area of Kristianstad and flows into the lake Hammarsjön to its south. More than half of this area is actually situated on low-lying land reclaimed from the lake. The lowest point is 2,41 meters below sea level. Flood risks are associated with both the river and the lake. Moreover, as the river ultimately flows into the Baltic Sea, the river and the lake can also flood when river discharges are high and/ or the sea level is high.

Kristianstad is an exceptional case by Swedish standards, due to its very high risks. Increased precipitation and sea level rise as a result of climate change are also expected to make flooding events more frequent. In the first step of the implementation of EU Floods Directive, Kristianstad was identified as an area with significant flood risk. The most vulnerable societal functions in case of floods are the water and sewerage system, the regional hospital and the rescue services. About 16 000 people currently live in the flood prone areas in Kristianstad.

A system of embankments and pumps, which is currently being rebuilt and expanded, protects Kristianstad. Without defensive measures, or in the case of failure, a flood could have catastrophical consequences. A 2,5 meter rise in lake Hammarsjön would entail that the water would reach the first floor of buildings.