Work on Longford’s flood risk areas will not start until 2015 according to a report released at Longford Co Council’s recent meeting.
The lengthy consultation and assessment process will look to solve the severe flooding issues that have taken place in recent years, in particular in 2009 when heavy rainfall left large areas of the county under water.
In between now and 2015, some minor works will take place to help alleviate at-risk areas, but the major works will not happen until the full report has been completed.
Cllr Peggy Nolan hit out the OPW over the length of the time it will take to complete the flood works. “I’m so disappointed that really what’s being done is just lip service to the people who are in danger again this year. From the aerial photographs that were produced, anyone with an eye in their head could see what needed to be done in this county immediately.
“I can’t understand why it’s going to take six years. I pity the people that can’t get insurance. They’re going to wind up in the same position this year.”
Cllr Denis Glennon said the Dutch engineers, who are familiar with flooding, should be called in to assist. He added that the assessment should take no more than two years. “It’s the Shannon we’re dealing with, not the Amazon,” he said.
Cllr Alan Mitchell said the Development Plan should be amended to stop any development taking place in the flood-risk areas, which he said would only cause further problems.
Cllr Paul Connell said the level of Lough Ree should be reduced by two foot, back to what he said was the original level. He also said there needs to be better communication between Waterways Ireland, OPW and the ESB to allow the sluice gates to be opened in time.
Tom Murtagh, Senior Engineer, outlined the council’s submission to the OPW on draft preliminary flood risk assessment, which will identify areas where the risks associated with flooding might be significant.
A total of seven locations have been identified in the county – Longford town, Clondra, Edgeworthstown, Ballymahon, Abbeyshrule, Elfeet and Lanesboro (ESB). These areas wil have a more detailed assessment through Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management (CFRAM).
In particular, the issues identified include the Camlin River from Ballinalee village through Longford to the River Shannon.
With significant flooding in Ballinalee village in 2009 of a number of houses and a water treatment plant, the plan says it’s an area for further assessment.
Clondra, where flooding blocked roads, is also considered an area for detailed assessment, particularly given the complexity of water-flow from the River Camlin and how it interacts with the sluice and weir at Tarmon, the part-constructed hydro station, and the Royal Canal.
Significant and unprecedented flooding occurred in areas along the east bank of the Shannon and Lough Ree, including Knappogue (Clondra), Lanesboro, Elfeet, Newtowncashel, Annagh and Saints Island, and again, detailed assessment of these areas will be carried out. Part of the assessment here will look at opening of sluices on a sequential basis to minimise the extend of flooding.
In Ballymahon, the area around the Inny will be considered, while in Drumlish and Ballinamuck, the area along the Black River has been included as part of the assessment plan, particularly with frequent flooding in the area.
The final locations to be looked at in the assessment are the bog areas operated by Bord na Mona in south Longford and the Inny River Catchment in Westmeath. The report says that recent indications are the current extensive pumping may reduce in the future, thereby causing significant changes to drainage and increasing the extent of wetlands in Longford.
Having carried out the preliminary flood risk assessment, the next stage in the CFRAM programme is the Flood Hazard Mapping, which will be completed by 2013. After that, it’s the Catchment Flood Risk Management Plans, which will be rolled out by 2015.