Floods: Waterways agency defends Limerick role

Canal lock gates not opened in time to reduce flooding, claim distraught Corbally residents

Flooding in the area of Corbally in Limerick. Photograph: PA

Flooding in the area of Corbally in Limerick. Photograph: PA

 

Waterways Ireland has defended its role in managing water levels in Limerick city when the Park Canal burst its banks, wreaking havoc in the Corbally area.

Distraught homeowners in Richmond Park, where 14 houses were flooded on Saturday, are demanding answers as to why action to alleviate rising water levels in the canal came too late to prevent widespread flooding.

The local secondary school Coláiste Mhuire remained closed on Monday after floodwater surrounded the school, but did not enter the building. The all-girls secondary school is due to reopen Tuesday morning.

Five cars parked on College Park road were also submerged in water on Saturday night when the canal burst its banks.

Lock gates

The lock gates were partially opened on Thursday and Friday when some water was released to relieve pressure.

According to Waterways Ireland, it was agreed that Limerick City and County Council would monitor the canal levels over the weekend and release water “as appropriate”.

Keys to the gates and contact details of Waterways Ireland personnel were provided to the council.

“The level of water in the Park Canal rose quickly on Saturday evening to an unanticipated high level and the force of this water meant it was not possible to open the lock gates without mechanical aid.

“Waterways Ireland was contacted by council staff at 10pm seeking assistance and eventually at 11.30pm, with mechanical intervention, the gates were forced open and water levels in the Park Canal were reduced,” noted the agency.

Closely monitored

Vincent Murray

“The situation on the night was that when an attempt was made to open the gates by the lock keeper and an engineer from the council, because of the weight of water and silt and debris that had built up behind the gate . . . the gates wouldn’t budge for them and we had to send for additional mechanical assistance by way of an excavator to pull the gates open.”

Sinn Féin Cllr Maurice Quinlivan said that Waterways Ireland’s failure to monitor the Canal Bank caused the serious flood in Corbally on Saturday.

“This was not an act of God or freak of nature. Rather it was something which could have been easily avoided. Local residents are rightly incensed with what they see as serious neglect and ineptitude of those supposedly in charge of the canal.”

Mr Quinlivan called for Waterways Ireland to explain exactly what happened and “to compensate the Corbally residents as a matter of urgency”.