Sunday 18 March 2018

Flood plans will provide safety and protection to thousands of businesses and homes

The OPW will also continue its €15m a year investment in the maintenance of the Arterial Drainage Schemes, providing benefits to 650,000 acres of agricultural land. Photo: PA
The OPW will also continue its €15m a year investment in the maintenance of the Arterial Drainage Schemes, providing benefits to 650,000 acres of agricultural land. Photo: PA

Mark Adamson

In 2011, the OPW identified 300 areas at potentially significant risk from flooding. Viable flood relief measures have now been identified to provide protection to almost all properties at risk from flooding within these areas.

The details are set out in 29 draft Flood Risk Management Plans (FRMPs), which is a major step forward to help the Government make informed investment decisions. These draft plans were rolled out for public consultation since July.

They were developed through the National Catchment-based Flood Risk Assessment and Management (CFRAM) programme, and are the outcomes of years of detailed engineering analysis and extensive public consultation to assess the flood risk in the 300 areas.

The CFRAM programme has brought significant economies of scale and is based on a process that conforms with requirements in the EU Floods Directive.

The programme is without precedent in its scale and complexity. It has involved probably the largest survey programme ever in the country. That included detailed modelling for around 6,500km of river and 90 coastal communities, and the preparation of about 40,000 flood maps.

Local public consultation has been an important component of the CFRAM programme, with nearly 500 public consultation days held.

At these events, the CFRAM teams have presented the maps, issues, options and proposed measures for discussion with people, face-to-face, in their own communities. Their views have been taken on board, and helped form what's now proposed in the Draft FRMPs.

The assessment of possible measures has taken into account the risks and impacts for people, communities, our cultural heritage and the environment, as well as economic benefits.

The final FRMPs will require the approval of the Public Expenditure Minister before these measures will go to a detailed design. It is too early to say how much the works will cost, but it will be in excess of €500m.

The Government has provided a significant increase in the OPW budget for flood relief over the coming years, with €430m allocated for the period 2016-21. In this time the OPW's annual spend on capital flood relief works will more than double to €100m.

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

In parallel, flood protection works have continued on the ground - 37 major flood relief schemes have been completed to date protecting more than 7,000 properties in places such as Clonmel, Kilkenny, Fermoy, Mallow, Ennis and Dublin. These schemes were tested during recent extreme floods, and did the job they were designed and built to do. A further 33 schemes are under way.

The Minor Works Scheme has also helped provide protection to people and their homes. Since 2009, the OPW has approved more than €37m of funding for nearly 600 projects around the country, providing benefit to over 5,000 properties.

The CFRAM programme has focused on the 300 communities at significant risk. However, the draft plans do include measures that can help manage risk in other areas.

The Minor Works Scheme is an integral measure within the plans. The OPW will also continue its €15m a year investment in the maintenance of the Arterial Drainage Schemes, providing benefits to 650,000 acres of agricultural land.

There is always more work to do, and the OPW and its partners will continue to work tirelessly in the coming years to implement these plans.

During this time however, the implementation measures set out in the FRMP will provide safety and protection to many thousands of homes and businesses, preventing billions of euro of flood damage.

Mark Adamson manages the CFRAM (Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management) programme on behalf of the OPW

Irish Independent

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