February 7, 2014
This week’s flooding in Cork again devastated many businesses and homes in the centre of our city. Regrettably the reaction to the 2009 floods in Cork did not prioritise a long term plan to protect our city. While criticism of the length of time it is taking to implement a flood defence scheme is legitimate it is important to understand that the flood situation in Cork is not straightforward. Progressing a scheme for the city involves complex and detailed preparations to ensure that the best possible long term solution is found. However, having spoken to Minister Brian Hayes this week, I am glad that, finally, progress is being made.
On Thursday February 6 Minister of State with responsibility for the OPW, Brian Hayes visited the city meeting with the Lord Mayor, Councillors, City Manager and representatives of local businesses. The Minister said that up to €100 million will be made available to carry out flood protection work for Cork. He also stated that a possible starting date for the three-year project will be in 2015. In the interim a forum between the OPW, City Council and local businesses is being set up to explore interim measures that can help alleviate the problem.
Last April the OPW appointed Arup Engineers to develop proposals based on the 2006 Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management (CFRAM) Study for the River Lee Catchment. The main objectives of this work include:-
- A flood forecasting system to facilitate optimum decision-making on dam discharges.
- A viable, cost-effective and sustainable Scheme, to permit provide protection along the Lower Lee and through Cork City against residual fluvial flooding and flooding from high tides and surge levels.
On July 17, 2013 Arup held a Public Information Day to outline the study and the process involved in developing the plan. Next it is intended to bring the emerging preferred scheme before the public; 29th July 2014 has been set as the date for this Public Information Day. Following this the scheme will be further refined, an Environmental Impact Assessment will be completed and a formal Public Exhibition will commence towards the end of the year.
It is expected that this scheme will be the largest flood relief scheme ever undertaken by the OPW, costing between €50 and €100 million. Given the substantial investment required work must only commence we are absolutely sure that we have the right solution for the City.
Apart from the proposed scheme for the central city area, studies are also being advanced for, Douglas/Togher. A Flood Relief Scheme for Douglas and Togher is currently being advanced by Cork County Council with funding to be provided by Office of Public Works (OPW). It is understood that Cork County Council has signed a contract for consultants in the last two weeks to take the development of a Flood Relief Scheme for Douglas and Togher. It is hoped that proposals to deal with the problems in these areas will be brought forward for public consultation before the end of 2014. The OPW has made provision for the costs of these schemes in its multi-annual budgets; however the funding will be subject to review depending on actual budget allocations.