Flood risk assessments to be carried out in east

Fri, Jan 27, 2012, 00:00

THE FLOOD risks posed by rivers across the east of the country, affecting up to 1.6 million people, are to be assessed by the Office of Public Works (OPW) and new flood maps of the region are to be produced.

The Eastern Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management Study involves 12 local authority areas, including Dublin city and county, Meath, Kildare, Wicklow, Cavan, Offaly, Westmeath and small parts of Wexford and Louth.

The main rivers under examinations are the Liffey in Dublin and Kildare, the Boyne in Meath and Louth, the Nanny in Meath, the Delvin in Dublin and Meath, and the Vartry and Avoca in Wicklow.

Separate risk assessments have already been undertaken into the Dodder and Tolka rivers which fall within this region and have been associated with severe flooding in Dublin in recent years.

The eastern river study is part of a national river flood risk assessment and management programme which is being undertaken to satisfy the EU floods directive.

Similar studies are already under way in the southeast, west, and southwest river basin areas, while a study of the northwest and Neagh-Bann river region will begin shortly.

The studies aim to assess flood risk through the production of detailed “flood maps” to identify and map the existing and potential future flood hazards and risk areas. The maps will be used to identify viable structural and non-structural measures for managing flood risks in specific high-risk areas, as well as in the region as a whole.

The information will then be used to develop flood-risk management plans in each area for flood prevention, protection and preparedness. Specific issues to be addressed include emergency flood responses, recovery from flooding and lessons learned from flood events.

Issues such as climate change, as well as land-use practices and future development, including consideration of how to avoid creating flooding problems in the construction of housing, will also be addressed in the plans.

Public consultation on the studies will begin next year and the maps for each region are due to be completed by the end of 2013. The flood-risk management plans are due to be published by 2015.

Flood prevention and alleviation measures will continue to be implemented throughout this period, according to a spokesman for the OPW, and in the region of €250 million will be spent by the Government on flood-risk management over the next five years.

Separately, a review of the severe flooding in Dublin last October has recommended an urgent investigation into the flood risk of “garden flats” in the city.

The review conducted by Jacobs Engineering on behalf of the city council followed unprecedented rainfall on October 24th during which a nurse, Celia Ferrer de Jesus, died in a flooded basement of a house on Parnell Road, Harold’s Cross.

Her body was discovered after emergency services pumped water from the flat.

The potential for “rapid inundation” of garden flats posed a significant risk to life, of which owners and property managers should be made aware, the report says.

It recommends consideration of the installation of audible and visible water level alarm systems as well as ensuring that a quick means of escape exists should flooding occur.

The report also notes that some council staff felt “helpless” during the floods during which more than 1,000 properties were flooded.

“Some members of council staff did feel helpless when faced with the the significant flooding and felt that they should have been able to do more, but to do so would have posed a risk to council worker’s lives,” the report says.