independent

Saturday 17 August 2019

Flood warning system shut down due to lack of funds

BLACKWATER SYSTEM ONLY NEEDS MINOR REPAIRS TO KEEP IT GOING

AN early flood warning system covering towns along the length of the River Blackwater has had to be suspended due to a lack of funding.

The Irish Flood Water System, the first online scheme of its kind in the country, was developed by a graduate at UCC in 2004.

The system's Active Flood Page analysed data taken from two upstream county council monitoring sites at Durraigle in Millstreet and Dromcummer near Kanturk. Experts then used the data to predict, with a high degree of accuracy, the likelihood of flooding in towns along the length of the river including Mallow and Fermoy.

The findings were posted on a dedicated website, with graphs detailing the relative height of the river over a given period. The site also contained historical information in relation to flooding incidents over previous weeks, months and even years.

The system, which had been widely used by businesses and leisure groups based along the Blackwater, had been administered by experts at UCC on a not-for-profit basis.

However, the data has not been updated since January of this year as its administrators do not have the funding needed maintain the system.

One of the people behind the scheme, Dr Paul Leahy, an engineering lecturer at UCC, told The Corkman that the service had been suspended due to what he described as a relatively minor technical fault.

"The problem is a communications one, in that we are currently unable to receive the data from the two monitoring points. We have been able to keep the project going on a shoestring budget, but simply do not have the funding needed to fix what is a relatively minor technical fault," said Dr Kiely.

He said that the site had proven to be very popular, particularly with businesspeople operating along the river that would be directly affected by flooding.

"The visible upsurge in traffic on the site when the river was running high clearly indicated just what a valuable asset an early warning system such as this can be," said Dr Kiely.

"The bigger picture here is that central government needs to see the value of reliable, low cost flood warning systems such as this and invest in them," he added.

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