Wednesday 26 July 2017

'Water coming up from sewers did most damage - not the river'

Mark Dearey, owner of the Spirit Store on the quays in Dundalk. Photo: Tom Conachy
Mark Dearey, owner of the Spirit Store on the quays in Dundalk. Photo: Tom Conachy

Ian Begley

John Mee knows all about flooding. An employee at Quayside Kitchens on George's Quay in Dundalk, he said the business stood no chance against a combination of the overflowing tide and heavy rainfall which struck in January 2014.

"The tide very rarely overflows on to the quays, but when it does, it creates an awful nuisance," he said.

"When we got word of what was happening, it was too late to do anything.

"It wasn't the water from the river that did the damage.

"It came up through the sewers and floor gullies - that's how the real damage happened. It ran through the whole showroom and office on the Thursday, then it came back again on the Friday and following Monday. It left an awful mess."

There have been eight major flooding events in Dundalk and Blackrock in Co Louth since 2000, and the OPW says defences costing €40m are needed, to avoid damages of €135m.

Read more: 'We were millimetres from disaster... we were very lucky'

Some 1,461 properties need protection. Existing defences need to be assessed. New walls will be needed, roads raised and the Blackrock River lowered.

Green Party councillor Mark Dearey, whose music venue The Spirit Store in Dundalk has been hit several times, said he was concerned about plans to develop homes on wetlands, which will displace floodwaters.

He said: "The sea defences are not designed for tidal increases due to global warming, but nevertheless, I welcome the proposals in many respects, which will certainly save money in the long run. I'm concerned that these new houses will displace rainwater."

Flood Defence Works Interactive Map

This tool sets out the cost of installing flood defences, the damages which might arise and number of properties under threat, in the most at-risk areas across the State.

It is based on data from the draft Flood Risk Management Plans, produced by the Office of Public Works (OPW), following extensive surveys of 90 coastal communities, and more than 6,500kms of river channel.

The country is divided into 29 Units of Management (UoMs), which are areas covered by a single river basin or covered by a group of smaller rivers. Given its size, works required along the Shannon are set out in three UoM.

Clicking on the icons show the works required in each area.

The urban area is highlighted at the top, and the UoM beneath. The cost of proposed works is set out in €m. The ‘damage uncapped’ figure relates to the total cost of damages to properties and infrastructure which would arise if nothing was done.

The ‘damage’ figure is based on the value of the properties at risk. This figure is used to determine if a scheme should go ahead – if the cost of the damage is less than the cost of providing defences, the scheme may not go ahead. This is the cost-benefit ratio. If it’s less than one, the scheme doesn’t make financial sense.

The final figure is the number of properties protected.

Some icons contain less information. For example, Tullig in Kerry is part of the Castleisland flood defence scheme so no information is contained. The OPW has also identified other areas as being at low risk, or says the existing flood defence regime should be maintained. In other cases it notes the need for a forecasting system, or says if a scheme is underway.

Further information is at http://maps.opw.ie/floodplans/


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