Saturday 18 November 2017

€1.5m flood works to lift town

Protective walls costing €1.5m being built around town will end flooding fears, writes David Looby

At the flood defence works at Bridge Street were Jim Thorpe, resident engineer, Wexford County Council; Padraig Treacy, project supervisor MJS; Tomasz Slonina, site engineer and Eamonn Hore Director of Services Wexford County Council
At the flood defence works at Bridge Street were Jim Thorpe, resident engineer, Wexford County Council; Padraig Treacy, project supervisor MJS; Tomasz Slonina, site engineer and Eamonn Hore Director of Services Wexford County Council
Flood defence works at Marshmeadows and Rosbercon
Flood defence works at Marshmeadows and Rosbercon

Work is progressing at pace on New Ross's new flood defence system, which, when completed, will enhance the look of the Barrowside town, while protecting it from flooding for decades to come.

Flooding has caused devastation for business and home owners in New Ross - with the floods of 2014, 2002 and 1997 still looming large in many New Ross and Rosbercon residents' memories.

MJS Civil Engineering workers have been digging up many of the old flood defence embankments skirting the river and erecting new 3.9 metre flood protection walls around the town on either since January.

The entire project, which is expected to be completed in October, is due to cost in the region of €1.5m, with all monies coming from the Department of the Environment.

New Ross District Director Eamonn Hore said: 'This firm was responsible for the New Ross Main Drainage Scheme which involved the "Interim Flood Protection Scheme" along the South and North Quays. They also had direct knowledge and access to all the design drawings of pipes, manholes, non-return valves on outfall pipes to the Barrow. All this information proved invaluable in the current design. Also Mr Jim Thorpe, who is overseeing this project, was Resident Engineer on the Main Drainage works. Again his intimate knowledge is invaluable. District Engineer Mr Abraham Dunne, has been the Council's technical expert on this scheme from its inception, along with the flood protection schemes for Ballyhack and Arthurstown.'

A sandstone flood protection wall built in Rosbercon has been completed showing the quality of work New Ross residents can expect on either side of the river.

Demountable barriers will be fitted onto the wall, at its entrance, in times of flooding.

The flood protection wall continues to behind Ferrybank Motors and to the bridge, and along by Stafford's fuels on the opposite side of the road.

On the town side, the flood protection wall stretches from Dr Rogers dentists to O'Hanrahan Bridge. The current flood protection wall at The Galley will be heightened by 600mm to 3.9 metres.

Crossing the road a glass flood wall will stretch from behind the John F Kennedy statue all along the quay and there will be a glass wall along the marina, where a walkway will connect the boardwalk with the marina. Much of the existing pipe work is being upgraded and a 900m pipe is being installed at the Boat Club.

Mr Hore said: 'This is the first time MJS have worked in New Ross and we are delighted at the standard of their work. The works in Rosbercon come up as far as Rosbercon Hill and they stretch to the garda station. The walls are 3.9 metres above the ordinance datum, expect at the boardwalk, where they are 3.6m.'

He praised the stone masons and Martin Codd from Rathnure, for their excellent work on the sandstone wall in Rosbercon.

He said no communities along the Barrow need to fear any negative knock-on effect from the flood defence system in New Ross. 'The area we are protecting is only a small amount of water. The walls will have a minimum efect on the rest of the area stretching over to Hook Head. It's like throwing a bar of soap into a swimming pool.'

The MJS Civil Engineering crews are currently working on a 250 metre flood wall at the back of Sweeney's Garden Centre and Prime Ed. 'We are ahead of schedule at the moment. We're 19 weeks into a 40 week project. Over the next month we're expecting a good break as we will have lower tides,' Mr Thorpe said.

40,000 tonnes of clay sourced from the construction works on the New Ross Bypass are being used to create earthen embankments.

'The clay had to be specially selected based on its moisture content so that its impenetrable. It's a great re-use of material,' Mr Hore said.

He said by a stroke of luck while carrying out preparatory works for the flood defence system, engineers discovered that the embankment at the marina was on the verge of collapse, so funding of around €250,000 is being sanctioned for this section also.

A team of around 20 men have been working daily on the project under site engineer Thomaz Slonina. Mr Thorpe said the project is one of a kind and everything depends on the tide. 'We are taking down existing defences, many of which have been there for 100 years. We watch the tide tables. You have to be careful not to work in certain areas at certain times or you could break the defences and the tide could come up. We've had to make temporary embankments.'

In February a 800m tide surge almost lead to major problems. 'It came up out of nowhere. The atmosphere pressure changed. We had to build a temporary embankment. The Barrow is an unusual river as the tide can vary by 3.2 metres in the space of six hours.'

3.9m is the top of the flood defences and the highest recorded flooding has been 3.2m but with global warming the additional height was deemed necessary.

New Ross Standard

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