Tide turns on State funding for flood relief

Flood waters at a house in Ballinstague, Gort.

State authorities should fund individual flood barriers and other mitigation measures for homes in areas that do not meet the current cost benefit analysis criteria, according to a submission by Galway County Council.

In its response to the Western Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management (CFRAM) plan drawn up by the Office of Public Works (OPW), the local authority has called on those cost benefit analysis criteria to be changed for rural areas.

The Council has also called for a voluntary home relocation scheme to be set up for homes under constant risk of flooding where works to lessen the risk were not carried out.

Galway County Council said it welcomed the flood protection measures proposed for Clifden and Claregalway – the latter is currently being built.

“However, Galway County Council is concerned that the many other measures that have been identified to offer flood protection to affected properties in the various AFA’s [areas for further assessment] are not being progressed because they do not meet the required cost benefit criteria,” according to the submission.

“Galway County Council requests that the OPW reviews the cost benefit criteria for minor works schemes and develops a scheme that offers assistance for individual property protection so that the measures and recommendations identified in the draft FRMP’s [Flood risk Management Plan] might be implemented in the lifetime of this plan.

“Galway County Council requests that the OPW assists the relevant body or agency on the implementation of a voluntary home relocation scheme for property owners that can avail of these schemes.”

While the maps drawn up as party of the study will prove an invaluable tool in the management of future floods, the majority are centred around towns and villages and exclude rural areas. The Local Authority asks for a revision of the assessment areas when the next management plan is drawn up to ensure flood protection measures can be identified across all of the county.

“Galway County Council want to see measures like voluntary home relocation, flood forecasting, promotion of individual and community resilience and individual property protection advanced at the earliest possible date by the appropriate body and that adequate funding is made available so that these policies can be realised for those people affected by repeated flooding,” it urged.

Larger schemes should not take precedence over smaller schemes.

“Galway County Council has a particular concern that in many of the AFA’s where flood protection measures have been identified, these schemes are not likely to advance because the minimum cost benefit criteria cannot be achieved. This is of little comfort to the property owners at risk of flooding.”

As an example, it points to water flowing onto Crowe Street in December 2015 from the flood plain at the back of Lidl, requiring sandbags and pumps to be deployed.

“If the embankments or flood walls identified as flood protection measures were constructed this flood risk could have been mitigated against.”

In Tuam, the Council wants any structures identified as being at risk of blockage to be replaced while in Roundstone it calls for the quay wall to be upgraded to act as a flood defence system. Recommendations for channel and flood defence walls to be maintained in Clifden should be taken over by a State body and properly funded.

Councillor Donagh Killilea (FF) said 30 homes affecting by last winter’s flooding were deeply disappointed by the lack of a scheme approved for Gardenfield, which failed to meet the cost criteria.

Rather than wait for the next assessment to be done in six years, the OPW should explore individual home protection for areas such as this, according to the Council.