Row breaks out between agencies over flooding in Limerick city

Waterways Ireland and Limerick City and County Council blame each other for handling of flooding

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

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

 

Limerick City and County Council has hit back at a statement made by Waterways Ireland on its handling of serious flooding in the Corbally area of the city at the weekend, insisting the waterways authority has “sole responsibility” for the canal that burst its banks.

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

In a statement on Monday,Waterways Ireland claimed it was agreed on Friday that Limerick City and Council would monitor the canal levels over the weekend and release water “as appropriate”.

However on Tuesday Limerick City and County Council released a statement expressing its “disappointment” with comments made by Waterways Ireland in respect of the serious flooding which occurred in Corbally on Saturday night.

The local authority is now calling on Waterways Ireland to carry out an immediate review of the management and operation of the Park Canal and to publicly outline its plans in order to reassure residents and businesses affected by last weekend’s flooding.

“Limerick City and County Council wishes to point out that Waterways Ireland is the authority solely responsible for the management and maintenance of the Park Canal,” read the statement.

Some 14 houses in Richmond Park were flooded and five cars parked on College Park Road were submerged in water after the canal burst its banks on Saturday night.

The local girls’ secondary school, Ard Scoil Mhuire, narrowly escaped major water damage after flood waters lapped the doors of the school but failed to rise any further.

Alarm bells about the rising canal levels had been sounded in the area since last Wednesday, and on Thursday the canal gates at nearby Lock Quay were partially opened to relieve rising water levels.

However these gates were closed again when the water levels dropped.

Angry locals are now questioning why it took so long to reopen the gates on Saturday,when record amounts of water were released from Parteen Weir by the ESB and the Mulcair river overflowed.

In its statement on Tuesday Limerick City and County Council said it responded to reports on Saturday evening that the canal was full and over-topping.

“Attempts were made by the Council Engineer on site to open the gates with the keys that were left with the Authority. The gates failed to respond and contact was immediately made with Waterways Ireland. As Waterways Ireland were not immediately available attempts were made by Council Engineers and the Fire Service to open the canal gates. The Council deployed an excavator to prise the canal gates open, an action that subsequently resulted in a lowering of water levels and the gradual alleviation of flooding in the area,” it said.

Limerick City and County Council is scheduled to meet with Waterways Ireland on Tuesday to discuss the matter.

In a statement on Monday, Waterways Ireland said a number of factors including continued rain fall and the discharge of water from Parteen Weir contributed to rising levels on the Mulcair, Blackwater and Shannon rivers on Saturday evening.

“Waterways Ireland had released water from the Park Canal on Thursday and Friday and had agreed with Limerick City and County Council that over the weekend the Council would monitor levels in the Park Canal and release water as appropriate. Keys to the gates and contact details of Waterways Ireland personnel were provided to the Council,” read the statement.

Meanwhile, Clare County Council has received confirmation from the ESB of its decision to maintain current discharge levels from the Parteen Weir at 440 cubic meters per second.

The Council says that water levels on Lough Derg have stabilised overnight while water levels on the Lower River Shannon at Springfield, Clonlara, recorded a small drop of one inch.

Council pump technicians and the Fire Service were on site throughout the night to assist local property owners. The Council remains on alert and will continue to monitor flood levels and weather generally to ensure that the necessary responses can be immediately activated.

Meanwhile, the flood response operations in the last 10 days have resulted in a “significant cost” to the Council. It is expected that costs to date will be in excess of € 0.9m.

Anne Haugh, Director of Services said: “The severe weather events experienced since Friday 4th December have required the full deployment of Council personnel to manage the overall situation. Crisis management arrangements have been put in place and utilised as necessary with the full co-operation and support of An Garda Síochána, HSE, the Defence Forces and the Department of Social Protection.”