Recently, the evolution of the Viennese Danube floodplain in the previous 500 years has been reconstructed and a GIS-database has been established, with approximately 1,850 river engineering measures at the Viennese water bodies from 1100 till 1900 CE, featuring basic information about their extent, durability, primary objectives and physical properties. In the 16th century the navigability of the Wiener Arm a precursor of the present Donaukanal which functioned as a supply line from the main branch to Vienna was threatened due to continuous siltation processes and fluvial dynamics of the Danube. The Viennese opposed these changes with costly but inefficient regulation efforts setting a century-long battle in motion peaking with the Great Danube Regulation between the years 1870 and 1875. In this study, the extents and physical properties of river engineering measures were translated into cost estimates in order to obtain a long-term overview of the undertaken efforts, underlying motivations and changing abilities of society to change the citys water bodies. A framework of existing price indices and documented labor and food prices was used to compare historical values of money. Distinct price categories for different construction types and time periods were derived by data in historical literature as standardized prices per extent. Adding up the cost estimates resulted in expenses at least equivalent to 60,000 - 400,000 days unskilled labor of a mason in most decades from 1540 to 1700, at least 300,000 - 1,400,000 in all decades between 1700 and 1830, and at least 1,800,000 in all decades from 1830 till 1910, peaking with potentially up to 28,000,000 days unskilled labor in the decade 1870-1880. The resulting cost structure shows analogies with natural, environmental and societal changes and historical events in Vienna. The attributes from the database (e.g. water body types, objectives) allow for a wide range of scientific analyses.