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South Galway flooding will get worse if nothing is done

If we leave things as they are South Galway flooding will get worse. A feasible solution has been found that will solve the worst of the flooding problems

Flooding in Blackrock – Photo Sean Brady

As part of a comprehensive 3 year analysis the unfolding scenario of South Galway flooding provides a grim outlook for South Galway. The worst flooding experience in 2015 is not the worst-case scenario- it get much worse. This article dives into the future flooding situation in South Galway and outlines light at the end of the tunnel.

In the analysis of a 1 in a 100 flood event, it is likely that South Galway will experience much more severe flooding than recent history. The M18 will flood. The N18 will flood. Gort will flood. There will be more homes flooding across the overall region. In 2015, 37 homes were flooded, in future scenarios, this rises to 50. The following scenario shows the potential flooding impact of a 1 in a 100 year flood.

The worst affected areas are Blsckrock\/Skehanna, Gort Town and Cahermore. In an extreme flood event 50 homes will flood and a further 23 would be at high risk which is <75cm to floor level.

Buildings flooded

In addition to homes flooding, there could also be 65 Non-residential properties flooding which include 20 slatted sheds/farmyards, Garages, Thoor Ballylee, Kiltartan Church and Graveyard, businesses in Gort (8)

Communities Isolated

As we have already experienced, there could be even more significant isolation within South Galway with communities like Rinrush cut off completely for over 3 months. Overall it is estimated that 175 homes and 75 non-residential properties would be cutoff. The M18 motorway would be in flood, the N18 would also be flooded so if you wanted to get from Galway to Gort, the only option would be to go via Loughrea.

The whole of South Galway would be paralyzed and common day tasks like getting kids to school, shopping, going to work, delivering feed to cattle, would be an arduous task ,not just for 1 day or so, but potentially, for months !

Many in South Galway already know this situation. In some cases a 500m, 1 minute drive to Kiltartan School was turned into the a 50km 50 minute round-trip to Loughrea. I’ve heard similar experiences with some young mothers in Cahermore clocking an additional 700km a week just to bring and collect their children from school.

In the past, some farmers had to relocate their cattle from their sheds to friends, neighbours sheds or even into Gort Mart. So, a 10 minute feeding time twice a day can become a two hour task, traveling several kilometers.

In future flooding scenarios, 49 individual sections of road would be flooded, including Crowe Street, Gort. The Kiltartan to Kinvara connection could be flooded for 99 days.

This level of isolation has a major impact on the life and soul of a community and businesses would see a catastrophic impact in the region.

This is the future reality of South Galway flooding, with Climate Chane considerations, and our committees remember the pain very well – be it a long-stay in a local hotel room for weeks, sleepless nights with the drone of pumps in the background, the alarm clock set an hour earlier to get kids ready for school, the anxiety of farmers as their livelihoods are under threat consistently for months.

Dynamics of flooding

The forensic analysis of flooding dynamics rely on statistical analysis on each of the floodplains as the complexities of the overall South Galway region arealmost impossible to gauge – its possible that the Blackrock/Skehanna flooding scenario could happen one year and Gort is OK, only to be reversed on the next flood event. In summary.

The frequent flooding scenarios that we’ve experienced in the past 3 decades will continue and get worse.

Light at the end of the Tunnel

So, yes, that was the grim reality of what South Galway will probably experience frequently in the future if things were to remain the same.

Public Consultation

Over the next 4-5 weeks, there is a public consultation on an emerging preferred scheme and we would recommend that people engage with Ryan Hanley consultants to understand the current flooding impact and the proposed solutions to alleviate extreme flooding. All information can be found here.

The details are as follows:

Recommendations are to leave feedback or contact the project team to answer any questions you have.

Summary

The outlook of flooding in South Galway looks bleak but the proposed scheme could address this. We recommend South Galway residents, business owners, farmers to give their feedback (positive, negative, or any concerns) on the scheme as part of the public consultation process.


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Featured

South Galway on the verge of Spring Flooding

In October last year, high winter water levels and flood relief delays was leaving South Galway exposed to flood risk.   While August and September 2019 were close to double the expected rainfall, October and November had less rainfall than normal and it looked positive that the South Galway would escape yet another winter without flooding.   Some people had expressed this to me that we were coming out the far side of this and it was unlikely that we would get flooding now. Some people were more cautious reflecting back to 2014 when we had a significant spike in February 2014.

img_2820
Blackrock Turlough, Peterswell had almost disappeared 2 weeks ago

Less than 2 weeks ago,The Blackrock Turlough, Peterwell,  was close to disappearing and this morning it’s less than 1m from the road between Peterswell and Skehanna. There is more to come off the mountain and there is more rain on the way.

 

south-galway floods

While recent rain it not the dramatic rain downpours of 2009 and 2015, or the large flooding volumes either, its a slower creeping buildup of water levels.  This latest rainfall will likely flood roads around Tierneevin (just flooded across road as I’m typing..) and Tarmon and potentially by the weekend some roads around Blackrock, Peterswell, Ballylee, and we still have unpredictable weather over the next few weeks.

We have in some ways been lucky in the past 2 weeks.  While Storm Ciara packed a quick punch of rainfall, Storm Dennis hopped off us and landed with a vengeance in England where it offloaded a months rain in 48 hours.

However, even today Thursday 20th of Feb, the outlook is for Heavy rain tomorrow and Monday.

rainfall

The following graph shows the water levels at Russaun, the outlet of Lough Cutra. This essentially is the level of water that flows through Gort town (and eventually into Kiltartan)

south-galway floods2

Up until 9th February, the levels had stabilized and then Storm Ciara hit which surged levels. Storm Dennis and yesterdays rainfall have kept the levels up.  This level of water won’t cause any sudden flash flooding but will continue to fill up Coole, Caherglassaun and Cahermore and make South Galway more susceptible to severe flooding if we get a further ‘winter’ storm.

The key concern here is that if we got another severe storm, then we could see a similar surge as we did with Storm Ciara on top of current levels  – which would likely bring several flooding to the area.

On the backdrop of this, Galway County Council is due to submit Feasibility report in the coming weeks (Last date given was Q1-2020)  – which will then decide on the future and viability the South Galway Flood Relief Proposal.  South Galway, now, more than ever needs solutions not more failed report or expensive studies.

We are at the ‘right’ side of the flooding season and hopefully we will make it through unscathed.  We are coming very close to the time to call out our elected representatives on their commitments to finally eliminate flooding in South Galway.

We should be keeping in mind a storm of a different kind if this much needed project fails to make it through.

David Murray

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

Derrybrien Windfarm debacle could now cost us well over €4 million and rising

If this penalty application gets through in December – the Irish Government will have to pay over €4,168,000 into the ‘European Union own resources’ account and then continue to pay €10,000 per day thereafter.

From a previous article, Derrybrien Windfarm – Government and ESB treating us like fools,  we highlighted that the Irish Government was treating us like fool as European fines were mounting up on a daily basis – The situation looks a lot worse!

Here is the story so far: (In short)

  • In 2003, The Derrybrien Windfarm Developers (ESB – 95% owned by Irish Government)  didn’t do a proper Environment Impact Analysis for their development and proceeded with development and caused a massive landslide
  • In 2008 : After analysis the European Courts ruled against Ireland with a court order to reassess the Environmental Impacts and put in proper mitigation in place.
  • In 2008, the Irish authorities informed the Commission that the wind farm operator  (ESB) had agreed to provide an updated environmental impact assessment
  • In Jan 2018, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) issued a statement which indicated that Ireland would face fines of over €2m.  The court stated that even at this late stage, a full EIA must be conducted, which must include full consultation with residents, industry and other relevant stakeholders.
  • In April 2019, a That leads up to last Monday when the CJEU met in Luxembourg on the case. The full contingent of Judges (15) were there to listen to Ireland’s progress since January last year – it wasn’t great and the Irish Government was harshly critizied as it had not acted to implement the earlier judgment and there was quite some disbelief that Ireland could/would not act more decisively against a 95% state owned company. (ESB)
  • On 13 June 2019 an Application for an order to pay a penalty payment and a lump sum)  was proposed by the Advocate General to the Court and the picture is a lot starker.

Irish Government Response (or lack thereof)

Before we dive into the money – an interesting point to consider is that Richard Bruton Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment is also responsible the the ESB (well 95% responsible anyway) and obviously responsible for the Environment – so – this should have been easy as the buck stopped there.  After the April 2019 Judgement, frustrated by Government in-action I compiled a set of questions that I wanted the get answers to:

  • What progress has been made over the past 11 year and specifically, what actual progress has made in the past year, since the EU indicated potential fines of €2Million and 12K/day thereafter?  
  • Why does Ireland seem unprepared and unprofessional in this. (To quote an EU environment enforcement officer ” There was quite some disbelief that IE could/would not act more decisively against a 95% state owned company. ” What is causing this delay?
  • As its likely that we will now receive harsh fines – Who will be footing this bill? Will this be the ESB or the Irish Government?
  • What are the Governments plans to rectify this and when will this happen?

In order to get clarity I asked our local Fianna Fail TD, Deputy Anne Rabbitte to help get some clarification here and I asked her to frame some Parliamentary questions about this to the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment.  This she did and this was the response from the Ceann Comhairle 

“I regret to inform you that I have to disallow the (questions) … The Minister has no official responsibilities to Dail Eireann for this matter and is a matter for the ESB which is independent in its functions.”

parlimentaryQuestions

We are not allowed to ask questions about a potential large penalty to be imposed on the Irish Government by the European Court of Justice on an environmental infringement.  We are told we have to leave it to the ESB, a company 95% owned by the Irish Government, who promised to carry out an Environmental Impact assessment over 11 years ago because it is independent in its functions.

I can see how the European Court of Justice as critical of Irish Government governance = tail wagging dog

 

 

Potential Penalties

This is only an application and the final judgement will be given in a few months time, likely be the end of the year.  This application has proposed

  • A lump-sum fine calculated at a rate of €1000/day from the date of the Court Order to the date of final judgement
  • A daily penalty of €10,000/day from the date of final judgement until the matter is fully resolved.

This isn’t news (we have always known) that this was coming down the road – ESB could have avoided this – The Irish Government could have avoided this by just doing the EIA.

If we say the final judgement will be 1st December 2019. That’s exactly 4168 days since the Court Order. (3rd July 2008)

If this penalty application gets through in December – the Irish Government will have to pay over €4,168,000 into the ‘European Union own resources’ account and then continue to pay €10,000 per day thereafter.

Note :  This amount is 3 times the normal amount we should be paying because of the lack of response – Ireland got the maximum multiplier factor of 3 for this.

How does this relate to flooding in South Galway?

The original EIA of the wind-farm indicated that there would be no additional drainage on the 4sq KM site on the main Slieve Aughty Peak.  After the landslide happened the developers put in place a ‘Robust-Drainage‘ Scheme, which involved digging 6ft x 8ft drains from each of the 71 turbine bases .  Overall, the drainage of the site was impacted by:

  • 200 Hectares of forest was clear-felled
  • Over 30 km+ of drains were dug
  • Over 17km of roads were constructed
  • 71 turbine bases were dug out and  constructed

With no impact assessment – how knows the effect the wind-farm has on the drainage but if you now consider this picture you can see why Derrybrien, Gort and South Galway communities should be concerned.

derrybrien_rivers_gort.JPG

The severe flooding in Gort in 2009 was from the Gort River which comes down from this area.

The South Galway Flood Relief Committee want the same thing as Europe here – a proper assessment on the impacts of mountain operations in this area and retrospective mitigation to ensure that potential flooding impacts from the wind-farm are mitigated in some way.

The real frustration here is that rather than than investing in flood mitigation ware are throwing away money having to pay these penalties because organizations that could be contributing to the flooding won’t do the proper assessments and the Irish Government is standing idly by as money pours down the drain  – Meanwhile the South Galway Flood Relief project has a risk of not progressing because it could be deemed to be too costly

This is something that we need to get vocal about as this is our money we are wasting and our flooding solution that could be in crisis.  Please share!

Thanks,

-David Murray

 

 

For more information on the Derrybrien Windfarm Saga :

 

Notes:

  • There are other groups in South Galway are affected by the Windfarm landslide also. This has not been touch up under the South Galway Floods Blog.

 

Flooding Feasibility Study published for South Galway

After decades of difficult times for the communities of South Galway and North Clare, a comprehensive feasibility report has been published On Monday 22nd Feb, detailing of an emerging solution for flooding in South Galway.  

The key objectives of the feasibility study revolved around protecting people and their livelihoods, protecting all residential, non-residential properties and cultural heritage sites from flooding and to ensure strategic road routes and access to rural communities are at low flood risk. These objectives would need to be achieved at a cost-beneficial, environmentally sustainable and socially acceptable manner.

This feasibility report contains flood risk assessments, emerging design, environmental impact assessment, cost-benefit analysis. It easily demonstrates the enormous scale of the flooding issue in South Galway and the level of analysis and detail required to get to a feasible solution. This has been a gargantuan effort from Galway County Council, Ryan Hanley Consultants and Mott MacDonald and can be seen in the level of detail provided (even in summary form)

Example of Scheme detail in the Feasibility Report

Future Flooding Impact

The flooding assessment was carried out on a 1:100 flood event adjusted for future climate change effects and paints a very bleak picture with impacts such as :  

  • 73 residential properties at risk of flooding/high flooding. (9 of which are in Crowe St Gort)
  • 65 non-residential properties, including 20 slatted shed complexes, cultural heritage sites (Thoor Ballyee flooding over 3m)  
  • 175 residential properties and 46 non-residential properties, including dairy farms, are at risk of being cut-off due to prolonged flooding of all road access
  • 19 rural communities cut-off throughout the Gort Lowlands (The community at Rinrush are at risk of being cut-off > 3months.)
  • 49 individual sections of road including the M18 motorway at risk of flooding. The main roads route through the study area, namely the M18, R458 (old N18) and Kiltartan to Kinvara Road (L4506 and L4509) are at risk of closure for over 7, 34 and 99 days respectively.
  • The Limerick-Athenry Railway line is at risk of flooding at Castletown >25 days.
  • Significant amounts of farmland that are flooded beyond normal flood levels

Emerging Preferred Scheme

The feasibility study, completed from over 3 ½ years of complex analysis and modelling, has produced an emerging preferred scheme.  There is a substantial amount of detail the feasibility report which can be downloaded here:

This scheme comprises a series of large flood alleviation channels and culverts which provide a temporary overflow pathway between floodplains and Kinvara Bay, each with a specific overflow level and capacity designed to achieve Target Maximum Flood Levels.   It also includes other flood protections works including additional pumping facilities, embankment upgrades and road-raising works.  Among the works, this scheme includes:

  • 16km of channel works
  • 303,000m3 of excavation
  • 30 large culverts.

The overall scheme is broken down into 15 zones (each a scheme in itself), and coniste to works along the main waterflows in South Galway and includes, Central Gort lowlands (From Blackrock to Coole to-Kinvara),  Thoor Ballylee Castle, Gort Town and satellite areas wuch as Labane, Cockstown, Tullira, Termon, Roo, Lough Bunny)

The main scheme can be imagined as series of overflow channels that kick in to keep the different floodplains within a Target Maximum Flood Level.  The overflow channels, which were first mentioned in 1960, unsurprising, mainly follow the current overflows we see in extreme weather events.

Impact Summary

While detailed analysis needs to be done, it appears that the scheme will reduce peak flood levels  in a 1-in-a-100 -year flooding across the main floodplains (an average peak level reduction of 1.4m,   some more, some less).  This reduction in peak levels, with additional works, could offer substantial benefit in eliminating flooding to residential and non-residential properties, as well as maintaining access on strategic routes.  This reduction in peak levels will reduce flooding risk on 638 ha of land, (463 ha of which is agricultural land).   

One key benefit of the proposed scheme is that we won’t have whole communities isolated any more – A 3 month cut-off for communities in Rinrush will be fully alleviated – this is a substantial benefit.

The Emerging Engineering Scheme, for the design 1:110 event, will:

  • Alleviate flood risk to residential and non-residential properties with an appropriate freeboard,
  • Ensure the main route ways and important strategic access routes across the study area are accessible throughout the design flood event
  • Provide access to communities cut-off by flooding •Alleviate flood risk to farm buildings and farmland and therefore improve the economy and prospects of the Gort Lowlands area,
  • Protect the sensitive turlough habitats and groundwater resource from pollution arising from flooded farm slatted shed complexes,
  • Alleviate flood risk at important heritage and cultural sites including Thoor Ballylee castle and visitor centre, Coole park gardens and visitor centre and Kiltartan Church, and •
  • Facilitate potential future railway line raising works at Castletown to ensure uninterrupted connectivity along the Western Corridor Rail Network.

While extreme flood peak levels will be reduced and overall flooding duration will be reduced by several weeks, it appears that there will still be long flooding duration on land – so the proposed solution is managing the ’emergency’ overflow (as was designed) but there is still a substantial amount of water stored in the Turloughs which will drain at an unchanged rate.

One of the most controversial aspects of the report is the requirement for a new culvert under the M18 motorway. In 2006, we indicated to TII (NRA at the time) that their engineering design was under-designed compared to flows outlined in different reports but this was ignored. The substantial costs of this culvert don’t appear to be included in the scheme cost (detail not there yet) and nor should they be. This area is under-review and so we will await for TII to make good on their mistakes of the past.

One area that is concerning is that some of the Target Maximum flood levels appear to be higher than anticipated. The Target Maximum Flood level for Coole will still substantially flood the Walled Garden and Coole Lake Level is a a key part in overall South Galway flooding dynamics.

Unfortunately, this isn’t a one-size fits all solution – water dynamics will often dictate limits and some peak-levels won’t be reduced equally.

Again, this is a very initial summary, more detailed analysis needs to be done and exact details should emerge through a public consultation process that will start within the week.

Preliminary Cost-Benefit

The feasibility report contains initial indicative cost benefit analysis and indicates that the ‘Net Present Value of Benefits’ of the scheme (savings that a flood relief solution will create)  will be close to €22 Million , and is mainly comprised of benefits from saving homes flooding , M18 Motorway flooding,  business and farm buildings being flooded, flooding of structures and areas of significant cultural and heritage importance including Thoor Ballylee Castle and visitor Centre, Coole Park gardens and visitor centre, Kiltartan Church and roads being closed.  Also adding the benefit are prolonged duration, road traffic disruptions and rail disruption.

Scheme costs associated with the flood relief channel and culvert works, road raising and flood relief roads, flood protection embankment and wall works, flood over-pumping facilities, drainage works, accommodation works, and channel, embankment and swallow hole maintenance works. These are not broken down in the feasibility study but indicative costs are put at €14 Million (ex VAT) but there are additional costs on ‘Whole-life-costs’ to be considered. We would also assume that the feasibility report itself will also be added in as a cost.  The finals costs will emerge upon a selecting the preferred scheme but this feasibility study has concluded that these benefit will outweigh the costs and that the scheme at this stage is potentially feasible. Any modifications to the M18 culverts could also be substantial but this seems to be treated outside the scope of this scheme but be under TII remit.

Even if the projected costs reach the €22m this is a far cry from the €48 Million price tag given in the previous Jenning’s O’ Donovan Report.

Public Consultation

There are many aspects of the proposed emerging scheme that need to be understood and considered. A public consolidation phase is commencing on the Emerging Preferred Scheme by means of an online public consultation event on the project website www.southgalwayfrs.ie where people can look at maps and get details of the scheme and talk to the consultants.   I would advise people to engage with this process to get a better understanding of the design and impact so the flood relief process and give any feedback regarding the scheme.

Reaction

Firstly, this is a very very welcome development – a feasbile flooding solution – something that has never been proposed to the the communities of South Galway over four decades. You have to appreciate the overall scope and complexity of the flooding so its a very impressive to be at the stage where we can discuss the proposed solution.

It’s too early to gauge the reaction on-the-ground to this report but overall I think it will be mixed. There is not doubt that there are huge pluses as it offers substantial benefit when it comes to homes, business and access around South Galway. We won’t have that isolation we have had in the past an that is a huge benefit. I think this will be received very positively by most people as the whole of South Galway has been badly affected here.

On the other, I think that landowner expectations would have been that it won’t have reduced the levels much more than what’s being proposed because once the peak has been manged, it’s down to the normal Turlough drainage – and so while it will save some land from flooding and will shorten flood duration by a few weeks at most -the overall flooding durations can still be significant .

We will also need clarifications. We need to understand more on the Maximum Turlough Levels and why these levels are higher than anticipated. We also need to understand some of the controversial areas like M18 culverts and what the plan is here.

Our advice to the public is to get informed as much as you can in the public consultation and give your feedback.

David Murray

Gort Lowlands Groundwater Flood Modelling Report

The Gort Lowlands Groundwater Flood Modelling Report report details the results of research into the South Galway karst network. The work was funded by Geological Survey Ireland (GSI), with additional support from Galway County Council and the Office of Public Works, and was carried out by Trinity College Dublin in collaboration with GSI as part of the 2016-2019 GWFlood project.

This was kickstarted in 2016 by a collaboration between the then OPW Minister Sean Canney and Denis Naughten.

Click to Download

The report (108 Pages) provides a details on the development of a complex hydraulic model over several years in order to model the complex groundwater- surface water interactions in the  area, as well as enabling quantification of freshwater discharge into the Atlantic Ocean at Kinvara Bay.

The model is then used to provide a statistical analysis of return periods of different groundwater flood events in the catchment, as well as making predictions as to the likely impact of climate change on the frequency of such events.

Download report here (11Mb) 

Reference:

Morrissey, P., Gill, L., McCormack, T., Naughton, O., Johnston, P., (2020) Gort Lowlands Groundwater Flood Modelling Final Project Report

Flooding Feasibility Report and Public Consultation Imminent

After several delays, Galway County Council has just confirmed firm imminent dates of the South Galway, Gort Lowlands Flood Relief Scheme Feasibility Report and pubic consultation.

  • Feasibility Report to be published on the project website http://southgalwayfrs.ie/ on Monday 22nd February
  • A Public Consultation on Options will commence on Friday 26th February and run to Saturday 3rd April. This will be a remote / online consultation, again accessible on http://southgalwayfrs.ie/

We will be highlighting key findings of the report and how the Consultation process will be run.

Flooding Feasibility Report and Public Consultation further delayed

Ever since the positive news of finding a feasible solution to the South Galway Flooding situation the project seems to have become very sluggish. At that stage Feasibility Report had been touted by the end of the year and a Public Consultation in early January.

The project now seems to be going off the rails as there doesn’t seem to be a definite date set for Feasibility Report publication. Ever since early January when we queried the status of delivery of report and public consultation – the answer has always been ‘a few weeks‘. However when the answer a few weeks later is still ‘a few weeks‘ then this a sure sign of no target or method to get to a target.

The Turloughs are at capacity in South Galway – the New Line to Tierneevin is closed as we head into an unknown few weeks.

Last year We had a storm in early March 2020 that bad threatened several of our communities and at that stage we were supposed to have the feasibility study report. We are one year on and the report and public consultation seems frustratingly close but always slightly out of reach.

It’s also been very quiet from our public representatives as if they haven’t quite shaken off the winter hibernation. In early March last year Minister Anne Rabbitte stated that “The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform have informed me the Gort Lowlands Flood Relief Scheme is progressing. Modelling is close to completion and this will feed into the route selection and feasibility assessment which is ongoing and expected to be completed by mid-2020.”

That didn’t happen. In August 2021 we got some support from Cllr Joe Byrne who “urged the government to push the completion of the South Galway flood relief scheme.”, Deputy Ciaran Cannon also stated, that “pressure must be kept on until it’s completed.”

In October 202 we got a positive statement for Galway County Council in October giving an indication that a feasible solution and they just needed times to compile into a full feasibility report which was due before the Christmas.

All of our public representatives highlighted this positive news. We all received this as very positive news – within a few weeks, though, cracks were staring to appear. Galway County Council reported in December saying that it was going to be early January. That has come and gone and still no indication of what’s really happening.

The only thing reported in the media since was the potential visit from OPW Minister Patrick O’ Donovan ‘possibly later in the year’ following an invitation from Junior Minister Anne Rabbitte.

This isn’t exactly ‘keeping the pressure on’ – what we want now is to get a strong commitment to finish this phaseget a timeline for when the Feasibility Report is finalised and firm dates for Public consultation and overall timeline for project

South Galway needs a flooding solution badly so we need to get a focus on this as a matter of priority.

-David Murray

Public Consultation on flooding expected in January

In a newsletter published by Galway County Council/Design Consultants in early October is emerged that a flood relief scheme was identified that would appear to be technically, environmentally and economically viable. The key next step highlighted was Public Consultation on the Emerging Preferred Scheme. This step comes in two parts

  • Options Assessment of the scheme in advance of public
  • Public Consultation

The Options assessment is currently being completed and will involve consideration of a range of alternative flood schemes for the area, taking into consideration technical, environmental, social and economic criteria. An emerging preferred scheme will be identified which will be presented to allow stakeholders and the public to input their views before the options selection process is concluded.

Public Consultation

The newsletter highlights that this was intended to be in place by the end of the year – running over the Christmas period but due to Covid-19, stakeholder consultation and having to have a virtual public consultation – the date has been pushed out to early January 2021.

The public will be notified of the consultation by the local newspapers, radio, announcement in local mass, our website, and posters in local shops and leaflets will be delivered to homes in the area.

Moving things online

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the public consultation will be conducted predominantly by online means and will involve several elements as follows:

  1. Consultation via the website – data will be presented which will include recorded information bites, emerging engineering scheme drawings & maps (also showing properties), information on alternatives assessed,  info-graphics presenting difference between scheme and no-scheme scenarios relative to the recent 2015 flooding, CGI images showing what a channel might look like.
  2. Live webinars (One evening and one daytime) – This webinars will be held after the information becomes public to allow people to digest the information. A Q&A session will be facilitated as part of this and there will be a Frequently-Asked-Questions document produced after the event.
  3. Post & Phone – we are aware that not all members of the public will have access to the internet. Therefore feedback will be facilitated by post and phone.

The details and dates will be provided in the leaflet.

Virtual Consultation

Virtual Conferences are becoming the new norm and this is how we would expect the Flooding Public Consultation Process to go.

The Galway to Athlone National Cycling Scheme Virtual Public Consultation

For an example of the interaction here are some Virtual Conferences.

Note : We won’t know yet the exact details to be presented.

Analysis

Once the dates are known (imminently) we will let you know!

As normal, once dates are known and once the technical information becomes available we will also be analyzing this and presenting it within this blog and other formats.

Against all odds – A Feasible Flood Relief Solution found for South Galway

Against all odds – a feasible solution has been found for South Galway (Photo ronmasteh)

It’s been a long journey through many difficult times for the communities of South Galway and North Clare as the severity and frequency of flooding has led to an increased yearly threat of flooding in the past 4 decades.

We are now in a very unique situation where we finally have a real chance of ending this flooding threat as we have just received news of a feasible solution found for South Galway Flooding!

Against a legacy of failure

The legacy of South Galway flooding has been a long-term repeating cycle of failure. Severe flooding, followed by distressed calls for flood action, in-the-moment Ministerial support (and visits in lorries, helicopters and boats)  and promises of solutions. This would then be followed up by expensive reports being commissioned that conclude with distinctive ‘no’ regarding progression of a feasible solution.

There is also a war of attrition going on for the past 4 decades. As flooding steadily gets worse then the only consistent tool in the OPWs/Galway COuny Conucil’s flooding solution war-chest was to relocation, remedial work and road-raising respectively. All of these chipped away at what would be a significant benefit of a strategic cost-benefit solution for a full flood relief solution

Weigh in the semi-state bodies like Coillte and ESB who have plundered the Slieve Aughty slopes, exacerbating the flooding while eloquently dodging the same Environmental constraints that limited feasible solutions. And lets throw unprecedented rainfall and climate change too boot!

People got relocated, roads got raised, motorways got built, rain got worse – The system was completely broken with the situation worsening and no viable solutions emerging

The problem was intractable – the underground networks and connectivity were a mystery and this became the main blocker to any form of solution – If you are not able to understand the impacts of digging channels at certain sizes throughout South Galway then you couldn’t guarantee that you wouldn’t flood homes downstream and because of Environmental considerations this unpredictability became a flood-relief scheme killer.

Because of this issue – with all the will in the world, there was no real chance of getting a feasible solution. There is no doubt that we have had Government support throughout these 4 decades,  Yes – we have had Taoisigh Albert Reynolds, John Bruton, Bertie Enda Kenny, Leo Varadkar and Michael Martin pledging support of a broken system. We have Presidents Robinson, McAleese and Higgins spending time in South Galway nodding compassionate to mothers who have lost their home, their wedding album and their neighbours.  

“This is a most important step in the process of solving the problem of flooding in South Galway. It is the most comprehensive study and the remedies to be put in place will be long-term and the Government is giving the South Galway situation top priority. ” March 17th 1995

Mr Michael D. Higgins TD,. Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht

This is the real legacy of South Galway flooding and if you were a gambler, the odds of getting a flood relief solution for South Galway were stacked firmly against a positive outcome

This legacy of failure to deliver meaningful flood relief solutions over the past 4 decades has left a heavy skepticism in the community.

Flood committee involvement has actually gone through a family generation like Billy Fogarty to son Ray all looking for some solution of getting water flowing.

The Channel

The concept of an overflow channel connecting Turloughs was first muted in 1960 when there was severe flooding in South Galway.  In a meeting in Labane in April 1992,   Michael Ryder of Ardrahan suggested that we should ‘Cut a channel from Coole Lough to Kinvara like the late Mick Donnellan suggested 30 years ago in Labane. He would have done it too but it would have cost £3 million and there was no money in the kitty“. So the foresight of a ‘channel’ came from Mick Donnellan.  The ‘Channel’ has been touted each and every decade since.  The open question came down to the details of this channel.  It has manifested from something as simple as “2 pipes laid between Coole Lake and Kinvara” (March 1994) to a 7.5m deep channel of 5 km length (Jennings’s – O’ Donovan 1998) – To be fair- with the complexities of the South Galway underground system – it was anyone’s guess. Fundamentally – this was the key issue. How big was this channel (or channels touted in Peach’s report ( 1995)  , how much would it cost and what would its impact be?

In 1995, Senator Frank Fahy pointed out that the price put on a channel from Coole to the sea was £32 million and in 2010 that number had been indicated at €48,010,384 – a number that would bury any chance of a solution – The strange thing was that the only metric being counted was cost and not benefit.   Tag a number of greater than €10 million and it became infeasible.  Even the gargantuan Jennings-O’Donovan report noted the €48 million figure and didn’t even bother with counting the benefit.

Honing the right tools

For all the will in the world, and aforementioned politicians, public servants,  engineers,  IFA committees, communities, flood committees, religious organizations; the scale and complexities were insurmountable.  Best-guesses at underground complexities with the ever present constraints of environmental impacts couldn’t frame a solution that ticked all boxes.  At each new ‘flooding survey/report’ emerged, they were touted as unprecedented, substantial and scientific but they were just too primitive to get to a meaningful conclusion – the complexity of the South Galway hydrology always led hit an intractable wall.

From 2008, however a quiet revolution was happening in the Irish hydrology landscape.  South Galway became a focus for hydrology research under the tutorship of Paul Johnson, TCD.   Paul with some emerging TD students Ted McCormick, Owen Naughten and Laurence Gill,  set about developing digital models of underground hydrology networks and started to apply new and emerging analysis techniques to gain better understanding of these complex systems. As they worked through their research using Turlough Monitors they started to develop digital model to approximate the underground dynamics. They looked at Turlough level interdependence and methods to gauge underground connectivity and sizes.

After the 2015 floods occurred and in light of the devastation rendered onto South Galway – Independent TDs Denis Naughten and Sean Canney (with some well-intentioned prodding by South Galway Flood Relief committee (Sorry Sean!) ) formulated a plan which resulted in the secondment of  Ted and Owen from TCD to GSI on a GSI Groundwater project (GWFlood) to finally figure out Turlough-based flooding dynamics in Ireland – with special emphasis on South Galway.   Their South Galway research at that date had relied on partial Turlough Monitoring.   Within a year, GSI had added monitors to every major Turlough in South Galway and their analysis was furthered bolstered by an EU project called Copernicus which provided detailed satellite imagery for the 6 years previous. They were able to use this to analyse the Turlough boundaries during that time (including the 2015 floods) .

The final part of their ‘toolkit’ came from commissioning LiDAR analysis of South Galway which provided extremely detailed topography of the area where they could accurately measure Turlough volumes (as opposed to levels) . This data allowed GSI/TCD to accurately gauge the differing Turlough volumes and estimate the main relationships and capacity of the underground networks. This they fed into Patrick Morrissey of TCD to help craft a precise hydrology model of South Galway.    From blunt instruments GSI and TCD were able to develop analysis tools of a more surgical precision.

This activity resulted in an unparalleled understanding of the hydrology of South Galway and the corresponding hydrology dynamics into the future with the provision of a digital hydrology model. This was the promised big game-changer for South Galway and while it took several years to develop it emerged as a tool that could be used to gauge impacts and solutions for Sough Galway.  There were two key uses of this model.

  1. It could be used to gauge the levels of flooding into the future which fed into the flooding impacts (and subsequent benefit for flood relief solutions)
  2. It could be used to understand potential flooding solutions and their impacts.

This was the ultimate tool to size the proposed channels using a sound scientific basis.

A final supplement to this model was a survey undertaken by the South Galway Gort lowlands design consultants, Ryan-Hanley, which detailed the levels of homes, farms, business, heratige sites (Thoor Ballylee), road and motorways in South Galway and with this hydrology model was able to assess the future impacts of flooding on the various communities in South Galway.

This delivered a method based on robust scientific fundamentals with the precision required by all protagonists to explore flood relief solutions for South Galway.

Having the surgical tool in hand was no guarantee of a solution.  The way forward was a painstaking slow analysis, development and refinement of potential solutions, many of which ended up in the proverbial bin. This took tens of thousands of hours to find and fine-tune solutions.

Success!

And so it has emerged – a successful thread of the needle has brought about an exceptional and unique conclusion.   After decades of turmoil for many in South Galway, after decades of disappointment and frustration with infeasible solutions we have finally found a feasible solution to flooding in South Galway that is backed by scientific forensic analysis. There is a viable solution to flooding in South Galway which means that an investment in a solution here will save money in the long term and bring an end to the devastating threat that has plagued our community for over sixty years. There is a lot of work yet to be done and many challenges ahead before we realise the full solution and while we are now in unchartered territory, we have overcome the decades-long challenge of South Galway not being worth saving.  

South Galway has always been worth saving, we now know what it takes to save us and there are no longer any excuses to stop this from happening.

While the devil may be in the detail, we have been assured of that we have a viable solution to flooding in this region and we can now look forward to a significantly diminished threat of severe flooding that had become to many the legacy of life in South Galway.

Note : more details will emerge in the coming days.

Acknowledgements

The intentions of our public representatives have always been to alleviate flooding in South Galway and we have so many people highlighting this in the past -from Councillors Toddie Byrne, Michael Cunningham and Michael Fahy, Bridie Willers, and community activists such as Mattie Hannon, Michael Kelly, P. J. Baldwin, Billy Fogarty, and many more, in pushing for this solution throughout the past number of decades.    The IFA, who were strong supporters in the 1990’s have not been as efficient in recent times but they may finally deliver on their 30-year journey of getting farmers a viable farm relocation package. 

The turning point in recent times can be brought back to Taoiseach Enda Kenny who expanded the ministerial position of OPW to include Flood Relief and was steadfast in his support for this project.   This position was assigned to our local representative Deputy Sean Canney who kickstarted the South Galway/Gort Lowlands Flood Relief Scheme and who with Deputy Denis Naughten found the investment in the GSI GWFlood project.

I would also like to acknowledge the work of Cllr Joe Byrne who brought his engineering intelligence and local drive to the fore and also the growing influence of our more recent county Councillors as this solution progresses.   (Geraldine Donohue and PJ Murphy)

Deputy Ciaran Cannon has been a great voice in Government and made sure this was kept relevant for the previous Government and Minister Anne Rabbitte for her continued tenacious support in this cause.  

Very strong acknowledgements to Ted McCormick, Owen Naughten and Patrick J. Morrissey of GSI and TCD who did the hard work on figuring out South Galway hydrology and to the tireless efforts of Ryan Hanley (Conor Warner, who left no stone unturned in searching for flooding benefit), Mott MacDonald (Rita Mansfield) to find a feasible solution. Also credit to NPWS (Dr Enda Mooney) who helped to clarify SPA/SAC constraints.  Also to Galway County Council and in particular to the stellar work of Enda Gallagher who is the focal point of all this effort (and sometimes the man at the centre of the storm ). Credit also to Richard Dooley and colognes at the OPW.

I would also like to acknowledge the drive of the previous committees in the past that have pushed South Galway Flood relief onto the national agenda including the  South Galway Core Group for Developing the West Together and the South Galway Flood Victims Action Group. I would of course like to acknowledge my colleagues and stewards on the South Galway Flood Relief Committee (SGFRC) who have been working tirelessly since 2016 to progress the flood relief agenda for all the communities in South Galway. This committed committee consists of David Murray (Chair), Eugene Nolan (co-chair), Tommy Fahy, Colm Burke, Michael Cahill, Pat Quinn, Michael Flaherty, Seamus Kelly, Martin McInerney and Ray Fogarty!

Finally, I have to acknowledge the support of my family especially my wonderful wife Sharon who gave me the space and support that I needed to help get this very large wheel turning in the right direction and moving on this project so we could rid our community of this ever present flooding nightmare!

  • David Murray 🙂

Flooding, failure and frustration – A history of South Galway Flooding

While are heading toward a decision on the future of South Galway Flooding next week – what exactly has happened in the past and how did we get here?

Next week will bring a Decision-Day for the future of South Galway flooding. It’s been a very long journey of flooding in South Galway, one that has gone from infrequent unprecedented flood events to very frequent and even more unprecedented flood events and following a repeating cycle of flooding, failure and frustration over a 60 year period. The following is a compilation of news headlines (mainly from Connacht Tribune) on flooding highlights over the past 60 years.

Will our South Galway Communities be relegated into this inhumane cycle or will we get a positive feasibility assessment which will allow us to breaking this cycle of failure once and for all?

South Galway Flooding Timeline

1960s

  • May 14th 1960 – Call for Gort Flood Survey!
  • March 28th 1969 – Gort Drainage!

1970s

  • November 18th 1977 – South Galway Farmers Hit By Flooding

1980s

  • February 1980 – Meeting on Drainage Problem
  • August 1985 -Flooding

1990s

  • March 1990–Families will be out  of homes for weeks awaiting floods drop
  • April 1990- Angry Farmers Demand Action
  • January 1991- Home is Abandoned
  • January 1991- Minister sees flooding himself
  • January 1991- Flooding Survey
  • May 1991- Flooding Survey Underway
  • January 1992 – Over 2 Inches of rain causes floods
  • April 10th 1992 – Farmers in South Galway to ‘grin and bear floods’?
  • Nov 1993 – West Group question the role of forestry.
  • Jan 1994 -Record rains bring Extensive flooding
  • March 1994 – Angry Flood victims to Meet the Taoiseach
  • May 1994 – No simple answer to flooding.
  • June 1994 – Anger as Ministers reject plea for special flood aid.
  • August 1994 – Farmers want action now before flooding becomes issue again
  • January 6th 1995 – Minister to visit scene of flooding after Gort deluge
  • January 13th 1995 – Minister sees for himself the Gort flooding crisis
  • January 20th 1995 – OPW report on flooding crisis in South Galway
  • Feb 3rd 1995 – Record Rains bring a flooding crisis and force families out.
  • Feb 3rd 1995 – The full cost of floods is not yet known
  • Feb 10th  1995 – Air Corps are called in to help forty families
  • Feb 10th  1995 – Don’t blame forestry
  • Feb 25th 1995 – Govt to push for Euro aid for flood victims
  • March 17th 1995 – Work begins on finding long-term solution to South Galway Flooding
  • March 17th 1995 – Army moves int to help flood victims in South Galway
  • March 17th 1995 – Morale-boosting visit by President to flood victims
  • March 25th 1995 – Politicians get ‘ducking’ from Bertie on flooding crisis.
  • April 7th 1995 – Environmental Crux ‘could hinder flood relief’ as new £10 m package announced.
  • April 7th 1995 – Victims form new grouping
  • April 21st 1995 – Long-term solution sought on floods,  Higgins tells IFA
  • May 5th 1995 – Minister Higgins role in tackling flooding defined
  • May 5th 1995 – Query over the willingness of Govt to act on Gort’s flooding
  • Nov 3rd  1995 – Gort keeps fingers crossed as floods threat flares again
  • Nov 24th  1995 – No quick fix to the disaster of floods.
  • Dec 1st 1995 – ‘Solution’ to Gort Floods runs into trouble
  • Sept 27th  1996 – Interim report on South Galway flood study ‘due’
  • October 25th 1996 – £10 million official price tag put on the ’95 worst-ever flooding
  • November 15th 1996 Scientists prepare digital model in search for solution to floods.
  • March 7th 1997  Narrow Escape from repeat of ’95 floods.
  • May  23rd 1997  – Flooding  issue hasn’t gone away in South Galway Area
  • July 1997:  A New report highlights record rain
  • Friday, July 18, 1997 – A DIY flood relief scheme is shut down by the high-court
  • August 08, 1997 : Flooding survey is completed — but long wait is feared before recommendations implemented
  • Feb 06th 1998 : Now flood reports goes back to March
  • Feb 27th 1998 : An £800,000 report still inconclusive on findings
  • May 29, 1998 : Fury over reports ‘no hope’ decision on flood relief.
  • June 12th  1998 : :South Galway Flood Committee slate OPW Over meeting delay
  • June 19th  1998 : Public Meeting now sought to discuss flooding scandal
  • July 10th 1998 :Public meeting will hear farmer outcry over Gort flooding report
  • July 24, 1998 : Report is lashed in local reaction
  • Jan 22nd , 1999 : Flooded Farms send Govt SOS for a go-ahead on drains plan
  • Jan 22nd, 1999 : The “bottom line for the farmers is outlined to Walsh
  • May 9th 1999 : Anger at failure of flooding plea
  • Dec 3rd 1999 : £2.5m. in budget to tackle flooding in South Galway
  • Friday, December 31, 1999 : Families isolated as huge areas of South Galway flooded again!

2000s

  • January 07, 2000 : South Galway Townland left marooned by waters
  • January 07, 2000 : Army has to move in and use an emergency road which was provided for flood relief in 1995 deluge
  • January 07, 2000 : Families spell out misery of living in ‘fear of the floods’
  • January 14, 2000  : Flood strategy is discussed at behind closed doors meeting
  • November 03, 2000 :  Ministers detailed outline on progress to date on flooding problems in South Galway Area.
  • Sept 28th 2001 : Council information on South Galway flooding
  • Friday, March 08, 2002 : Drainage plan runs into crux
  • January 14, 2005 : Return of £2 million flood relief money a ‘national scandal’
  • March 07, 2008;  Flooding fears allayed over new Galway to Ennis line
  • November 27, 2009 : South Galway relives nightmare of 1995 as marooned families rely on flood drops
  • December 04, 2009 : Aftermath shows human face of flooding disaster

2010s

  • January 01, 2010 : Councillor demands real leadership to prevent further flooding disaster
  • Friday, January 01, 2010 : President’s pre-Christmas visit expresses solidarity with Galway’s flooding victims
  • January 29, 2010;: Government increases funding for flood studies and protection plan
  • Friday, April 30, 2010 : Gort & South Galway South Galway flood victims meet with OPW Minister
  • June 25, 2010 : Kenny to meet flooding victims
  • August 05, 2011 : Gort & South Galway Flood damage sees Thoor Ballylee closed for foreseeable future
  • October 07, 2011 : Gort & South Galway State to re-house South Galway flood victim families
  • February 10, 2012: Flood relief work to ensure no repeat of 2009 disaster
  • March 02, 2012 : Flood risk assessment forms key part of Gort’s new draft development plan
  • December 20, 2013; : More flood relief works earmarked for Galway
  • February 07, 2014 : Floods return to Galway as storms roll in Tens of thousands of acres of farmland remain under water as Ministers again ‘turn a blind eye’
  • February 21, 2014 : Gardai called in to South Galway flooding disaster Fears that farmers’ lives are being put at risk as floods continue to rise
  • April 11, 2014 : OPW Minister visits areas hit by flooding
  • December 29, 2015 : South Galway flood areas described as ‘disaster zone’
  • December 29, 2015 : Floods in Galway: ‘We’re tired and distressed beyond words’
  • 4th January 2016: Emergency channel dug near Kinvara to relieve flooding
  • January 5, 2016 : Kenny chairs emergency group meeting on flooding crisis
  • 9 January 2016 : Enda Kenny tours South Galway flood zones
  • May 19, 2016: Taoiseach announces 15 new junior ministers
  • Oct 17, 2016 :Some people in flood areas to be relocated – OPW Minister
  • Jun 10, 2017 : Threat of serious flooding leaves farmers ‘living in fear’
  • August 17th 2916: Major Milestone for South Galway Flood Relief Scheme
  • March 3, 2019: South Galway unlikely to dodge another major flood
  • Apr 04, 2019 : Fear of another South Galway flood is like holding a ticking time bomb
  • July 14, 2019: Minister Moran will leave no stone un-turned when it comes to delivering a Solution for South Galway
  • September 28, 2016 : Frustrations erupt over lack of South Galway flood relief progress
  • October 15, 2019 : South Galway Flood Relief Scheme faces months more delays

2020s

  • May 17, 2020 : Flooding Feasibility Study now delayed until August 2020
  • August 29, 2020 : South Galway Flood Relief scheme feasibility decision is imminent

Articles

The following includes more details of the listed articles.

1960s

May 14th 1960 – Call for Gort Flood Survey!

Galway County Council agreed to ask the OPW to carry out a survey of the Gort catchment to determine the order of priority in regard to drainage in that area in view of the extraordinary and persistent flooding in Gort Area. Gort Town was flooded every years, usually during Christmas week, and it could not continue

At a meeting in Quin’s hall in Labane, Mick Donnellan suggested to cut a channel between Coole and Kinvara.

March 28th 1969 – Gort Drainage!

Galway County Council had recommended to the board that it should drain the Gort River to reduce flooding in the area

1970s

November 18th 1977 – South Galway Farmers Hit By Flooding

The storms of the weekend brought distress to the farmers of South Galway. Flooding is widespread, walls were dislodged, slates were blown down and external fittings were shifted during the gale. A lorry  A lorry driver was marooned in his lorry for 19 hours when run into 7-ft deep flood water on a low-lying stretch of the Cloone-Lissatunna road.  The driver was forced to remain in his lorry overnight and was finally rescued at midday on Saturday when local vet Mr Mark Scully brought him to safety in a boat.

1980s

February 1980 – Meeting on Drainage Problem

Efforts are being made to alleviate the hardships and cut the losses of farmers in South Galway arising from the annual severe flooding of acres and last week Mr Tom Hussey, TD, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture arranged to have a full investigation carried out on the group application for drainage in that area.

Because of the amount of subterrain drainage, swallow holes and underground rivers, South Galway is one of the most difficult areas in the west of Ireland in which to achieve proper drainage.

Farmers of low-lying areas expressed their own concerns that if works were done in the highlands (towards Derrybrien, there would be a major increase in flooding in the lowlands

Councillor Michael Fahy has had discussions recently with officials from Mr Hussey’s department with a view of surveying the Beagh and Cloone rivers.

August 1985 -Flooding

The lodging of rain water on roads in South Galway is causing inconvenience to many people and Cllr. Michael Fahy made representations to Galway County Council regarding flooding near homes beside the national primary and secondary roads and county roads in the district

1990s

March 1990–Families will be out of homes for weeks awaiting floods drop

The families of 4 parishes  in South Galway, driven from their homes by recent unprecedented floods. Are taking refuge with relatives in other areas and don’t expect to be return for another 4 weeks.  Families in Ballylee, Raheen, Coole, Kiltiernan, Grannagh, Tierneevin and Cregclare have had to evacuate the flooding and several families in Peterswell have been marooned.  Paddy Fahy, in his seventies, is the by far the worst flooding he has seen. Farmers were quite adamant in their contention that the forestry plantation in the Slieve Aughty’s together with drainage carried out in those areas have contributed to several flooding in the lowlands.  The South Galway Regional IFA has been pushing for solutions.

April 1990- Angry Farmers Demand Action

South Galway Regional IFA Chaired meeting in Labane. Farmers were been offered £250 compensation but rejected it as they preferred to have the fundamental problem to the  flooding resolved.  Minister of State Frank Fahy hoped to have all South Galway included in the severely disadvantaged schemes.  Calls were made to have a proper survey of South Galway Flooding undertaken and set about alleviating it.

January 1991- Home is Abandoned

The storms of last weekend left their mark on South Galway in flooding in Turloughs and low-lying areas.  The Ballylee road is closed by floods since St Stephen’s day and the home of Mr Sean Kilcooley had to be abandoned owing to the floods.

January 1991- Minister sees flooding himself

Minister for Agriculture , Mr Michael O’ Kennedy, TD paid a visit to South Galway last Monday to inspect the damage caused by flooding in this area.  Minister Frank Fahy highlighted the need for major drainage survey and a proper drainage system.   They toured Coole, Killomoran, Tierneevin, Ballylee, Peterswell and Rahanse

January 1991- Flooding Survey

South Galway IFA welcomed the initiative of the Minister of Energy, Mr Bobby Molloy, TD, in arranging for a geological survery of the flooded areas of South Galway.  IFA will conduct their own survey and a form is to be filled out by the farmer  in each parish and information gathered by March (1991)

May 1991- Flooding Survey Underway

In May 1991, a Flooding survey got under way by Mr Donal Daly from GSI, Department of Energy, and the report was to be expected within 3 weeks.   The South Galway Flood Committee of the IFA were to communicate the perceptions of the people in regard to the flooding.  The key points raised were high rainfall in Craughwell and Slieve Aughty,  the blocking of swallow holes and the amount of decayed trees and vegetation being carried away by floods in wooded areas.  Two students from would carry out the survey. In general, a lot of optimism was felt and P.J. Baldwin expressed satisfaction with the survey and his confidence that it would lead the way to a successful remedy for this pressing local problem

January 1992 – Over 2 Inches of rain causes floods

A ‘Cloudburst’ took a route over the Slieve Aughty mountains that swelled rivers and cause Gort River to burst its banks.

April 10th 1992 – Farmers in South Galway to ‘grin and bear floods’?

The obstacles to the alleviation of the kind of floods which inundated large portions of South Galway in early 1990 and in January 1991 are so great it is unlikely arterial drainage will ever be carried out- local farmers will just have to live with the inevitability of similar floods every 30 years.  After the report, commissioned by Minster Bobby Molloy and produced by Donal Daly was presented to the gathering at Sullivan’s hotel,  Michael Ryder of Ardrahan suggested to ‘Cut a channel from Coole Lough to Kinvara like the late Mick Donnellan suggested 30 years ago in Labane. He would have done it too but it would have cost £3 million and there was no money in the kitty”.  For Pat Whelan of Ardrahan stated that ‘in 50 years’ time, their children would still have a problem of getting a channel cut to Kinvara’

Billy Kilroy, Gort pointed out a popular viewpoint – “Two-thirds of the Slieve Aughty Mountains are earmarked for tree planting and unless that planting is done in a phased-basis, the volume of water pouring down in the overground streams and drains will become enormous.”

Galway County Council were recommended to raise roads in the area.

Minister Bobby Molly indicated that the IFA had now the facts and to proceed as they see fit.

Nov 1993 – West Group question the role of forestry.

The increasing encroachment of afforestation on land development in the west, and the abiding opinion that the 29,000 Hectares of forestry in Slieve Aughty contributes in a major way to flooding in South Galway.  The Gort/South Galway Core Group  indicated that ‘unrestricted afforestation’ impinges on the amenities of all dwellers in the rural areas.

Jan 1994 -Record rains bring Extensive flooding

The recurrence of flooding in parts of South Galway, which forced people to abandon houses and farm buildings and made long stretches of roads impassable had led to renewed calls for more effective measure to tackle problem. The incessant rain caused serious flooding in parts of Peterswell, Kiltartan, Kilmacduagh, Ardrahan and Rahasane and in Tarmon over 200 acres were flooded.

A number of politicians MEB Mark Killilea, Deputy Bobby Molloy and senator Frank Fahy went on a road trip with IFA President John Donnelly.  Mr Donnelly said ‘it is totally and absolutely unacceptable’ and that he would be taking the issue up with Government Ministers “as a matter of urgency” to see what can be done to alleviate the problem and ensure it doesn’t happen again”. 

Deputy Padraig McCormick said he didn’t see any merit in politicians going out whenever serious flooding occurred and getting up on the back of a trailer to look at it and then doing nothing about it.  He said that it was clear that a costed plan needed to be completed showing how remedial action could be carried out , including further investigation of the canal option which might entail linking Coole Lake and Kinvara.  ‘That is the duty of politicians’ he said.  The South Galway Core Group for Developing the West together were heartened by the Taoiseach Mr Reynold’s recent undertaking to support he scheme.

March 1994 – Angry Flood victims to Meet the Taoiseach

A top-level delegation from The South Galway Core Group for Developing the West together  aim to meet the Taoiseach on solving flooding in South Galway.  Based on suggestion from Maire-Geoghegan-Quinn, it was decided to put it to the Taoiseach (Albert Reynolds) – The areas swallow holes be freed up and 2 pipes be laid between Coole Lake and Kinvara to take flood waters out of the area. They had no intention of giving up pressing the Taoiseach until he carried out the promise made to them at the launch of the Report in Castlebar earlier in the year.

May 1994 – No simple answer to flooding.

Officially there is going to be no immediate solution to the areas floods and the OPW have come down strongly against any inference with the existing regime of ‘swallow holes’  be re-designed to alleviate the floods in South Galway.  They say there is no quick-fix for the area’s  flooding problem and that a detailed study carried out over a number of years may throw some light on a solution but even then there could be no certainty about alleviation proposals.  Mr Noel Dempsey, TD Minister of state for the OPW highlighted ‘Before any works could be undertaken, it would be necessary to have a detailed study of the hydrology of the area carried out over a number of years and even then proposals could not be made with certainty.  Effectively that means that the floods are here to stay. 

The South Galway Core Group for Developing the West together expressed their dissatisfaction and demanded that an immediate detailed study be carried out and that the OPW back the cutting of channels between Coole and the sea at Kinvara.

June 1994 – Anger as Ministers reject plea for special flood aid.

Ministers are accused of passing the buck on failure to get backing for clearing of Swallow Holes in South Galway . Criticism was leveled at Minister of Agriculture, Michael O’ Kennedy who came by helicopter to view the flood lands in South Galway and questions were asked – “What was he doing if he had no function or responsibility for the relief of flooded farms. Minister for the Environment Joe Walsh TD, said that there were no funds in his department to do this“.

August 1994 – Farmers want action now before flooding becomes issue again

Farmers want a channel to be cut through South Galway to take flood waters out to sea at Kinvara.  Galway County Council consider the years flooding to be caused by unusually heavy rainfall, the blocking of swallow holes and run-off from the hilly areas but have said that they have neither the funds nor the expertise to take on the farmers’s drainage proposal.  Miko Quinn, Chairman of the action committee stated that ‘Our right-of-way to the sea is blocked and we want something done about it now so that there will be no flooding in the future. Compensation for flooding is not a solution’

January 6th 1995 – Minister to visit scene of flooding after Gort deluge

Moves are being made to have a drainage scheme started in South Galway to avoid the recurrence of flooding which inundated houses and business premises in Gort at the weekend and has left thousands of acres of land awash in South Galway each winter for a number of years.   Senator Frank Fahey called on the new Government to go ahead with a special scheme sanctioned by the outgoing Finance Minister Mr Bertie Ahern.  He also called for an urgent hydrological study to pinpoint methods of flooding alleviation. He pointed out that the price put on a channel from Coole to the sea was £32 million but some part of flood relief could be provided by tackling the problem of blocked swallow holes.

January 13th 1995 – Minister sees for himself the Gort flooding crisis

Minster of State Mr. Phil Hogan, who visited Gort this week said the Government intended to amend drainage legislation to include urban areas as part of the responsibility of the OPW. Mr Pierce Piggott, Senior engineer OPW,  highlighted 2 areas of concern, the use of Castletown swallow hole as a dumping ground and the acceleration of run-off water from the forestry in Slieve Aughty.

January 20th 1995 – OPW report on flooding crisis in South Galway

The OPW updated the GSI report of 1992 – they say the primary cause of flooding was the heavy rains. The rains of 1990 can be expected in 50-100 years and the 1994 rains can be expected again in 500 years’ time. In 1994 an estimated area of 3870 acres was flooded and lands remained inundated throughout the months of February and March.  The OPW outlined 3 possible remedies – drainage channels, interception dams (attenuation) and reducing clogging of swallow holes.

Farmers favour construction a channel to service the Coole area (out to Dunguaire, Kinvara). This channel would cost £32 million and would benefit 202 hectares – at the cost of £3,700 per acre. Too expensive! OPW was cautiously open to clearing swallow holes.

Deputy Padraig McCormack summed up the new approach – “There will be no more visits to look at the flooding . Enough has been seen. It’s action from now on

Feb 3rd 1995 – Record Rains bring a flooding crisis and force families out.

Over three inches of rain in less than a week at the end of a month of record rainfall caused havoc in numerous areas in county Galway and continues to pose considerable difficulties for the farming community.

Thousands of acres of farmland are under water and houses had to be temporarily evacuated in a number of areas of the County. Some families could be out of their homes for up to a month waiting for flood water to fall.  Elderly people had to be evacuated from their homes in Peterswell and Killomoran while Kiltartan Church was extensively flooded.

Feb 3rd 1995 – The full cost of floods is not yet known

One has only to think of the possible extend of damage done by 6 inches of water in anyone’s home – this is not purely a question of carpets having to be taken up and dumped. Electricity sockets and wiring have been damaged, plaster is ruined on walls, heating is probably damaged beyond repair, kitchen units will have simply swollen up and disintegrated like blotting paper in many homes, furniture, electrical appliances and clothing will have been damaged.

The victims of flood damage got little other than sympathy in the Dail last night. Of course one cannot expect that every natural disaster such as the unprecedented flooding of the past few weeks would prompt a government to weigh-in, with millions but to simply spell out the various areas of responsibility and say ‘sorry … we have no money’ is hardly good enough.

Feb 10th  1995 – Air Corps are called in to help forty families

“People are barely able to cope and we don’t know how much more we can take – it’s so stressful”, said Mrs Mary Donoghue. “It’s devastating for older people, for people confined to their house, to see the flood rising and endangering their homes. Its hard to get in an out of this area and the children have to go through flooded fields to school.”

Feb 10th  1995 – Don’t blame forestry

Coillte rejected outright claims that forestry was a major contributor to the recent flooding in Gort and surrounding areas and according to a spokesman for the forestry board, the forestation program underway on Slieve Aughty is likely to reduce rather than ‘exacerbate the flooding’

Feb 25th 1995 – Govt to push for Euro aid for flood victims

Minister For Agriculture, Ivan Yates, confirmed the Irish Government to consider making an application to the EU special disaster fund.

March 17th 1995 – Work begins on finding long-term solution to South Galway Flooding

The OPW are to carry out a major multi-disciplinary study of flooding in South Galway and it expected that in May the Government will appoint a contractor to begin work on the long-term solution of this problem. “This is a most important step in the process of solving the problem of flooding in South Galway”, said Mr Michael D. Higgins TD,. Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltach yesterday. “It is the most comprehensive study and the remedies to be put in place will be long-term”. Mr Higgins went on to say “The Government is giving the South Galway situation top priority”

“This is a most important step in the process of solving the problem of flooding in South Galway. It is the most comprehensive study and the remedies to be put in place will be long-term. The Government is giving the South Galway situation top priority”

Michael D. Higgins

March 17th 1995 – Army moves int to help flood victims in South Galway

March 17th 1995 – Morale-boosting visit by President to flood victims

President Mary Robinson’s visit to Gort on St. Patrick’s Day, to meet the local families driven from their homes by the floods and the others marooned by the floods, marked the first day in six weeks that Killomoran people could come out – on new temporary roads – to carry on the ordinary routine of driving to their town. President Robinson attended mid-day Mass at St. Colmans Church, Gort and afterwards when greeting the flooded families at Glynns Hotel, Gort her sincere expression of solidarity with them were a major uplift for morale. This was a gesture of good will by President Robinson who had over the last six weeks, kept up-to-date with the flooding situation in South Galway

March 25th 1995 – Politicians get ‘ducking’ from Bertie on flooding crisis.

Fianna Fail leader Mr Bertie Ahern said this week he could understand if local people started throwing politicians into the floods in the Gort area because of frustration at lack of action. With families now 12 weeks out of their homes and ‘not a shilling paid yet’, Mr Ahern called for speeding-up in compensation and aid to families who are facing ruin.

Mr. Ahern said a plan to relieve the flooding must be put in place speedily, whether it involved unblocking swallow-holes or more extensive work.

April 7th 1995 – Environmental Crux ‘could hinder flood relief’ as new £10 m package announced.

Deputy Padraic McCormack said that there is a danger that environmental studies will hold up work on drainage. “In this we have to weigh-up the enormous trauma of over twenty families who lost their homes and have been out of them for twelve weeks and we must weigh-up the personal trauma of losing your house and all your possessions against environmental interests. We have to remember that not alone did families lose their homes, but hundreds of others had their access to their homes cut off, children are still being brought to school by the army, and all these families are living fear that they will have to endure another winter like this. These are the interests we must weighup in any long, drawn-out study of environmental impact.”

Referring to attacks by Fianna Fail leader Mr Bertie Ahern on the pace of help, Minister Higgins said there was a history of flooding going back to 1990 in his area and nothing had been done while Fianna Fail were in power.

April 7th 1995 – Victims form new grouping

An association has been formed of victims of flooding in South Galway called the “South Galway Flood Victims Action group

April 21st 1995 – Long-term solution sought on floods,  Higgins tells IFA

Minister of State at the OPW, Jim Higgins told the South Galway IFA Flooding Action Committee in Gort on Monday last that the OPW commissioned major study of the area would “hopefully come up with a long term solution to the flooding problem”. He advised the Committee lo put forward its own proposals for individual drainage schemes in anticipation of the amendment to the Arterial Drainage Act being passed within the next two months. Mr. Higgins complimented the South Galway IFA on what he described as an “extremely constructive and positive approach to the flooding problems”

May 5th 1995 – Minister Higgins role in tackling flooding defined

Cllr Toddie Byrne (FG) has lashed out in a scathing attack on the South Galway Flood Victims Action Group for their criticism of Minister of State Jim Higgins in relation to support of flood victims in the area. Cllr. Byrnes blistering onslaught was made while the Flood Victims Group were meeting Minister Higgins at Glynn’s Hotel, Gort. Minister of State Higgins had also come to Gort to meet three other local groups in connection with the Governments relief of flooding, viz, the IFA and ICMSA representatives, the North Clare Flood Action Group and the South Galway Flood Victims Action Groups.

May 5th 1995 – Query over the willingness of Govt to act on Gort’s flooding

WHILE it is proposed to carry out drainage works in areas which experienced severe flooding over the winter months, it is generally accepted it will take a much bigger project to solve the problems in the Gort and Williamstown areas which left many homes and farms isolated.  It  has been claimed that the Office of Public Works are not particularly interested in carrying out drainage in South Galway anyway and are delaying such works by continually looking for surveys. Senator Frank Fahey said he believes that it will be at least next year before any drainage begins in Gort and believes that the solution to the problem is a locally based drainage initiative. But he said, however, that the Government are not anxious to provide funding for such a project. Sen. Fahey said he believes that there just doesn’t seem to be any commitment from the Government in providing any funding for drainage for the Gort area — parts of which are still being affected. Householders and land owners are now in a state of confusion as lo what the Government propose doing. I believe that because the majority of people are now not affected by flooding, nothing will be done”

Nov 3rd  1995 – Gort keeps fingers crossed as floods threat flares again

Fears of a recurrence this winter of the flooding which plagued Gort earlier this year were expressed this week following flash floods in the town last week after two heavy outbursts of rain. The hint of possible bad times on the way again this winter came in the form of flooding in Bridge Street following the torrential downpour on the night of Wednesday, October 25th. The adjacent Gort river was unable to take the water flow in Ihe town leading to flooding on part of Bridge Street on Friday which didn’t clear up until earlier this week. Local Fianna Fail councillor Michael Cunningham told The Connacht Tribune that the feeling locally was that whatever action needed to be taken to prevent a repeat of last year’s flooding should be initiated as soon as possible.

Nov 24th  1995 – No quick fix to the disaster of floods.

It has now emerged that the solution to the catastrophic flooding which occurred in the South Galway area earlier this year may not result in the construction of a channel which will take flood waters from the Gort area to the sea at Kinvara. There was dismay among local people at a public meeting in Gort last night when it was stated by officials from the Office of Public Works that such a channel would cost too much and might also have an adverse environmental effect.

Dr. Denis Peach, a hydrologist and project manager of the investigation, outlined to the meeting the possible causes of the flooding and possible solutions. Included in these is the transfer of water at periods of high flow from one catchment area into other nearby catchment areas which would have the capacity  to cope with the increased water.

 A number of speakers from the floor felt that the only solution was to build a channel to take the waters from the Coole area to Kinvara to the sea was the only real solution to the problem of flooding. Officials from the OPW said that there was a prohibitive cost factor involved in this — although they could not say how much money would be needed — while the environmental impact also had to be taken into consideration.

Dec 1st 1995 – ‘Solution’ to Gort Floods runs into trouble

As the  OPW were intending to raise the banks of the river at Gort, residents of people living downriver at Castletown, Rinnrush, Kiltartan and Coole considered this proposal ill-advised.  The immediate effects of these works cold accelerate through the large-swallow hole beyond the town and onto the above-named places as underground courses are incapable f coping with the increased volumes.

Sept 27th  1996 – Interim report on South Galway flood study ‘due’

Mr Hugh Coveney, Minister of State with OPW responsibility indicated that a draft interim report from the consultants for th south Galway Flood Study would be published within the week

October 25th 1996 – £10 million official price tag put on the ’95 worst-ever flooding

The full extend of the damage caused by the severe flooding in South Galway early last year will be revealed at a meeting next week but it is believed that farmers and householders lost out to a tune of about £10 million

November 15th 1996 Scientists prepare digital model in search for solution to floods.

One main channel to the sea at Kinvara or several smaller ones scattered throughout South Galway will be given full consideration bu the consultants commissioned by the OPW before they come to make their final report on flooding problems in the Gort-Ardrahan area next July

March 7th 1997  Narrow Escape from repeat of ’95 floods.

Last month’s flooding in South Galway is beginning to disappear again and , Mr. Hugh Coveney, T.D., (the Minister of State at the Dept. of Finance) said last week there are no provisions either in the 1997 EU Budget or the Government’s 1997 Estimates to compensate victims of these recent floods. These floods come within one week’s rain of being as destructive as those in 1995. That the rains slopped before the floods became a major problem had to do with an unexpected turn for the better in the weather but it is now accepted that the recurrence of annual floods is something that local people will have to live with.

May  23rd 1997  – Flooding  issue hasn’t gone away in South Galway Area

Flooding was top of the agenda at ATG at the South Galway Regional Executive IFA meeting in Gort.  It was indicated the the flooding issue was still very relevant and hope was expressed that a long-term solution would be found by consultants.  IFA secretary Paddy O’ Grady was severely critical

July 1997:  A New report highlights record rain

INCREASED rainfall over the last five years has been a major contributing factor in the increased frequency of flooding in the Gort area. And while there is some evidence that land use changes, such as the forestry and farming methods exacerbate the problem rather than cause it, the problem is not man-made according to the recent Report of the Oxford University investigation.   It highlighted that 6000+ acres as flooded in 1995 costing £9 million and highted recent flood events considering with increased rainfall 1ith exceptional years of 1960,  1984, 1990 and 1994. Forestry is suspected to increase siltation and block swallow-holes

Friday, July 18, 1997 – A DIY flood relief scheme is shut down by the high-court

A locally-driven scheme connecting Caherglassaun to Caherawooneen was ordered to be shut down.

August 08, 1997 : Flooding survey is completed — but long wait is feared before recommendations implemented

One of the biggest surveys ever carried out on localised flooding has been completed — however, the Government have not given any financial commitment to carrying out vital drainage works in the Gort and South Galway area. The two year report commissioned by the OPW is a draft report of the survey, measuring eight volumes, is now in the hands of Department officials and the details will be made known at a public meeting lo be organised in Gort in the future. However, there are concerns over the fact that il has been announced by the OPW that no financial commitments to the recommendations in the report. The Department of Finance say that a Cost Benefit Analysis will have to be completed and fears have now been expressed that delaying tactics will be employed before any works are carried out to prevent the disastrous flooding which occurred in 1995. It is estimated that damage and loss caused by the extensive flooding of the Gort and South Galway area ran to £10 million, with many families having to move out of their homes and huge tracts of land being left under water.

Feb 6th 1998 : Now flood reports goes back to March

Delays in publication of flood report highlighted

Feb 27th 1998 : An £800,000 report still inconclusive on findings

There are fears this week that the consultant’s report and scientific research into finding solutions for the flooding problem in parts of South Galway will be inconclusive – despite a state investment of £800,000 in the investigative work of the area. The OPW may be facing a situation in which no one plan of action to solve the problem will be recommended. It is understood that preliminary conclusions from the consultants’ report do not recommend a specific plan of action on the basis that the scientific evidence garnered is not sufficiently comprehensive and conclusive.

May 29, 1998 : Fury over reports ‘no hope’ decision on flood relief.

There has been a public outcry in South Galway following the release of the £1 million consultants report on the area’s chronic winter flooding problem recommending a ‘no solution’ scenario — local representatives have claimed that people ‘haven’t figured at all’ in the findings of the long awaited document. Politicians, farm leaders and local people have expressed their dismay at the findings of the long awaited consultant’s report on the flooding problems in the Gort and South Galway area which has affected thousands of acres of land in recent winters.  “One million pounds has been wasted on a consultant’s report telling people that nothing can be done — this is just walking away from the problem. 1 wonder would the same thing happen if a problem like this existed in Dublin city.” said Connacht IFA National Vice President Sean Ryan. He added that the people whose lives had been plagued by flooding problems were being offered no hope in this report. “It seems that the scenario is emerging whereby people just don’t count anymore — they come a bad third after ecology and the environment. It ‘ s a very sad scenario.” said Mr Ryan.

June 12th  1998 : :South Galway Flood Committee slate OPW Over meeting delay

The South Galway IFA Flood Action committee have criticised what they described as the belated decision of the OPW to convene a public meeting in Gort for presentation of the final Report on The South Galway flooding Study.

June 19th  1998 : Public Meeting now sought to discuss flooding scandal

THE South Galway IFA Flooding Action Committee say that the OPW  have not yet confirmed that a public meeting to explain the findings of the South Galway Flood Study will be held in Gort in mid-July.

July 10th 1998 :Public meeting will hear farmer outcry over Gort flooding report

The controversial consultant’s report on the flooding in South Galway, which caused an outcry amongst local farmers when it failed to reach a solution, will be discussed at a public meeting tonight which will be attended by those who compiled the long awaited document

July 24, 1998 : Report is lashed in local reaction

Martin Finnegan from the South Galway Flood Victims Grout, told the OPW officials: -‘You knew beforehand the answer to Ihe question would be No. The report is a camouflage job. “. P.J. Baldwin highlighted that ‘Gort town got drainage but in our area we still have flooding.  John Dillion, Deputy President of the IFA indicated “Cost benefits should go hand-in-hand with social benefits. Every winter the local farming community is under stress because of Hooding. They have the option of getting out or leaving the area to the birds. The OPW should leave this Report open so that they and the people can find a solution. £22.5m is not a problem, it is about “£1.000 for Each of the 20.000 people in South Galway.” he said. “This Report is a charter to do nothing “, said Councillor Jimmy McClearn.

Jan 22nd , 1999 : Flooded Farms send Govt SOS for a go-ahead on drains plan

Extensive flooding throughout County Galway this week resulted in renewed havoc among the farming community with thousands of acres under water.

Jan 22nd, 1999 : The “bottom line for the farmers is outlined to Walsh

FLOODING problems ir South Galway and the ongoing farm fodder crisis were the main items on the agenda when Agriculture Minister Joe Walsh met two deputations in Gort last Monday.  Minister Walsh also heard of the ongoing problems associated with flooding in South Galway and is understood that an undertaking was given that the Minister of State Martin Cullen (OPW) would visit the area to see alt first hand the problems on the ground.

May 9th 1999 : Anger at failure of flooding plea

THE Government’s failure to proceed with proposals for the alleviation of flooding in South Galway was vigorously attacked at the meeting of the South Galway Executive IFA Flood Action Committee at Sullivan ‘s Hotel. Gort. The meeting was called to review the outcome of the discussions held in the OPW offices of Minister Martin Cullen in Dublin on May 20 between Minister Cullen, Minister of Stale. Noel Treacy T.D.. Dail Deputy Michael Kitt and officials at the O.PAV. and the committee ‘ s deputation (Mattie Hallinan. Pat Whelan. Billy Fogarty. Paddy Joe Roseingrave and Michael Kelly) accompanied by Deputy Ulick Burke. Councillor Michael Fahy and Councillor Michael Cunningham.  The IFA Committee expressed their anger at the position of the OPW in re-appraising the recommendations of the Consultants ‘ Report from the point of view of cost benefit.

Dec 3rd 1999 : £2.5m. in budget to tackle flooding in South Galway

MR. Noel Treacy, T.D., Minister for Science, Technology and Commerce has confirmed that a decision has been made by Minister for Finance, Mr. Charlie McCreevy, T.D., of an extra allocation of £2.5 million in the Budget, in order to carry out flood alleviation measures in South Galway. Minister Treacy said the areas in South Galway, to benefit, from the Flood Alleviation Scheme are:  Ballyglass, Cregclare/Ardrahan area; Mannin, Craughwell area,  Termon, Gort area; Kilchreest area, Loughrea and  Killtiernan/Ballindereen Flood Scheme Completion Project

December 31, 1999 : Families isolated as huge areas of South Galway flooded again!

Five thousand acres of farmland in South Galway are flooded  with a short distance of the record 1995 floods and late on Christmas Day a family travelling to visit relatives were dramatically rescued when stranded in one of the many roads flooded  the area. The areas of most extensive flooding are in Ardrahan, Peterswell, Beagh, Kilbcacanty and Tubber. Roads arc still impassable in many ares causing hazards to road users and preventing people from travelling on their accustomed routes. Since last Wednesday, the food waters emerging from the Gort River at Crowe Street. Gort, have caused problems for users of the busy N18 S and Galway County Council have installed a pump there to relocate these waters. There is a greater than usual volume of water in the river and the flood relief measures carried out by the OPW. at Gort Bridge have ensured the swollen river is moving more rapidly downstream towards the lowlands. The Skehana area has been cut off from the rest of Peterswell by the floods. Were it not for a private road constructed in recent years to counteract flooding, three other homes in Peterswell would be totally marooned. Because of the road flooding traffic has had to be diverted and one family in Peterswell parish, living a mile from the village, have to take an eleven miles detour, via another road lo get to Peterswell . The Castletown Bridge road is flooded, as well as Ballylee. The water is out on the road in Kiltartan; on the Gort- Corofin road; on the Moneen Road; on the Coxtown Road; on the Tubber/Ballybaun Road; on the Grannagh Road and on the New Line/Tierneevin Road.

2000s

January 07, 2000 : South Galway Townland left marooned by waters

Killomoran, the Gort townland into which relief supplies had to be dropped by helicopter owing to surrounding flooding in 1995, is this week turned into an island because flood waters have blocked the access routes from Roo, Hawkhill and Cahermore. At present levels the area’ s flood waters is just four feet lower than the area’s highest flood winter levels in 1995.  Eight homes in the area have been flooded to one degree or another by the recently augmented flood waters in the area.

January 07, 2000 : Army has to move in and use an emergency road which was provided for flood relief in 1995 deluge

January 07, 2000 : Families spell out misery of living in ‘fear of the floods’

In the £1 million report on flooding in South Galway the Tarmon area was pinpointed as one which could benefit ‘ from drainage — but since then nothing has been done to alleviate the flood waters. This has angered local farmer Billy Fogarty who at the moment, has more than 25 acres of his farm under water — dramatically restricting the amount of grazing for his animals.

January 14, 2000  : Flood strategy is discussed at behind closed doors meeting

The main farm organisations have agreed that the new steering committee which was established earlier this week to tackle the flooding blackspot’s in South Galway is the first positive step towards addressing the problem. A behind closed doors meeting held in Gort on Monday organised by the Office of Public Works agreed that the five man committee would meet within the next week and prioritise areas which urgently needed io be drained. But the meeting was told that despite £2.5 million being made available for flood relief projects, work on drainage will not take place in the immediate future and will be subject to various procedures including environmental impact studies and planning permission. In fact it could take more than a year before any work is undertaken as the completion of an EIS is a lengthy procedure and would be subject to certain conditions laid down by Duchas — the Government’s wildlife and environmental body. The steering committee will be chaired by an official from the OPW and among the members are Michael Kelly, Chairman of South Galway IFA — who has been vehemently campaigning for flood relief measures since the major flooding in 1995 — and County Engineer, John Colleran. The meeting in Gort at which the press were ordered to leave — was attended by Minister of State with responsibility for the OPW, Martin Cullen, who said that he expected the committee to report back to him within a matter of weeks. It is expected that the steering committee will identify the five areas in South Galway — previously recommended in a consultant’s report as being suitable for drainage purposes — as priority for Hood relief measures.

November 3rd, 2000 :  Ministers detailed outline on progress to date on flooding problems in South Galway Area.

After last winter s flooding remained an unresolved problem in South Galway, the Government set aside in the 2000 Budget a specific provision for £2.5 millions for special works to alleviate flooding in South Galway. determined. This requires a full winter’s cycle of flows from Termon to be assessed. Monitoring of these flows is ongoing and the findings should be available by the end of April, 2001

Sept 28th 2001 : Council information on South Galway flooding

The latest information on the South Galway Flood Relief Scheme was made available to the members of Galway county Council by the Roads and Transport Section, Galway County Council. Councillors Michael Fahy and Michael Cunningham welcomed the information. The Council says: An allocation of £2.4m. was made through the Office of Public Works in 1999 for the relief of flooding in the South Galway Area. Messrs. Conor McCarthy, Jennings & O’Donovan Consultants were appointed by the Office of Public Works and considered 5 locations for flood relief measures including Cregclare, Termon, Ballinderreen Flood relief Scheme, Kilchreest Aggard feasibility, and Mannin feasibility

Friday, March 08, 2002 : Drainage plan runs into crux

There is a growing body of opinion in South Galway that the proposed drainage by the OPW. of the flood lands at Cregclare, intended to deliver the flood waters to Mannin area will cause long-term flood problems for farmers in the area. About 100 farmers have objected to the scheme

January 14, 2005 : Return of £2 million flood relief money a ‘national scandal’

A recurrence of flooding in the South Galway area has prompted a local IFA leader to describe as a ‘national scandal’ the return of £2 million in flood relief money to the national exchequer. Almost five years ago, an allocation of £2 million was provided in the estimates for flood relief in the South Galway area but after internal wrangling in the Craughwell and Ardrahan areas over the work to be carried out, the money was returned unspent to the national coffers.

March 07, 2008;  Flooding fears allayed over new Galway to Ennis line

Assurance have been given that the viability of the new Galway to Ennis Line will not be threatened by flooding. Myles McHugh of Iarnrod Eireann said  “This is no threat to the viability of the Galway to Limerick line when it opens next year. There has been no flooding on this stretch for 10 years and now it is the subject of an OPW investigation.”

November 27, 2009 : South Galway relives nightmare of 1995 as marooned families rely on flood drops

SOUTH Galway has suffered far worse flooding in the past week than the crisis which devastated the locality over four weeks in 1995 – as a second wave of flooding hit Gort and surrounding townlands this week Council workers, emergency services and the local community were battling round the clock to avert even further damage.  More heavy rain on Monday and Tuesday on top of the weekend deluge, left several homeowners in South Galway flooded, many others in serious danger of being flooded and battling to keep water at bay. Many families were facing being marooned on Tuesday – and food drops by helicopter and boat rescues were being planned for those isolated and cut-off, and many had to evacuate their homes.

The consequences of last week’s devastating weather will be felt right across the county for some considerable time to come. The worst flooding in living memory has left householders and businesses facing a bill that will run to millions – and many of them have no insurance to cover the costs.

December 04, 2009 : Aftermath shows human face of flooding disaster

Brian and Margaret Honan seem desperately defeated as they survey the remnants of the antiques business they have run in Gort for 35 years.

While the shop itself was saved from the floods which swept through Crowe Street last Wednesday because it sits 18 inches above the street level, their warehouse on the other side of town remains underwater.

2010s

January 01, 2010 : Councillor demands real leadership to prevent further flooding disaster

A local county councillor, Bridie Willers called this week for Government Leadership and not meaningless sympathy to show the peolple of South Galway that they have the political will to do what is necessary to implement flood prevention measures. Cllr Willers herself a flood victim asserted that there is only one solution to the catastrophic floods is to drain the overflows from the areas turloughs out to the sea at Kinvara

January 01, 2010 : President’s pre-Christmas visit expresses solidarity with Galway’s flooding victims

President Mary McAleese last week paid her own personal tribute to the heroes of Ballinasloe’s flood rescue operation when she included the town in a two day visit to areas stricken by what she described as “the sheer capriciousness and volatility of nature.” Earlier she had paid a similar visit to Claregalway and later to Gort to express the same solidarity with flood victims in those areas as well.

January 29, 2010;: Government increases funding for flood studies and protection plan

South Galway, Gort and Dunkellin-Craughwell have all been prioritised for flood protection schemes by the working group established after the recent crisis. It also says that a review will be conducted into the recommendations in the 1997 South Galway Flood Report. An examination of the recent flood event will be undertaken to identify if flood risk in this area has significantly changed from the previous flooding. There will also be continued examination of individual areas to identify possible local relief measures.

Friday, April 30, 2010 : Gort & South Galway South Galway flood victims meet with OPW Minister

Representatives of flood victims in the problem flooded areas of South Galway had a constructive meeting with Dr. Martin Mansergh, Minister for the OPW in Gort on Monday. , Mr. Mansergh was told the details of the ongoing effects of flooding and of the only solutions that the flooding victims considered as feasible for living in these areas.  Tarmon, Roo, Kilchreest and Peterswell were presented as huge problems and the Dunkellin works were seen as central to the long term solution for South Galway.   The flooding representatives, who sought Minister’s Mansergh’s agreement that the only remedy for the recurrent flooding was relocation to safe locations, were disappointed by Dr. Mansergh’s statement that the Minister for Finance has no plans for relocations.

The flood victims brought to the Minister’s attention the serious situation that has arisen in the restoration of the land which had been covered by flood waters for five months. The farmers reseeded the land when the floods receded, but the rains of last week had washed away the seeds, destroying the grass crop on which the farmers depended. The farm’s maintenance and grazing of livestock were lost.

Minister Mansergh said the OPW are now concentrating on South Galway and will next week consult with the County Council regarding the floods at Tarmon.

June 25, 2010 : Kenny to meet flooding victims

AS flood victims across County Galway are finding it an uphill struggle to get home insurance, the Fine Gael leader has given an undertaking to visit those affected by the deluge last November.

And Enda Kenny has promised to make it an issue for a debate in the Dail as dozens of householders are still waiting to return to their damaged homes.  There are unconfirmed reports of households in the Ardrahan area being quote sums of €30,000 in insurance premiums if they want their homes covered for flood damage in the future.  Last week it was revealed that hundreds of houses in County Galway that were flooded cannot even get insurance quotations while those that can are not being covered for flood damage.

August 05, 2011 : Gort & South Galway Flood damage sees Thoor Ballylee closed for foreseeable future

GORT’S continuing attempt to attract visitors to the area is set back by news that Thoor Ballylee, the Gort home of W.B.Yeats, one of the world’s greatest poets, which has been closed to the public for several years, is to remain closed for the foreseeable future.

Thoor Ballylee was for many years a tourist destination and the late Ms McNally, Curator, contributed hugely to its literary significance for scholars and students of the Anglo-Irish Literary Revival.

The original closure of the building came as a disappointment, but it came as a shock to everyone to learn in 2009 that the widespread floods had entered the tower and caused considerable damage.

October 07, 2011 : Gort & South Galway State to re-house South Galway flood victim families

THE state is to relocate a small number of families in South Galway to new homes from their original properties which were ravaged by the flooding of November 2009.

News of this development comes at a time when the occupants of the homes made inhabitable by the flood waters two years ago are facing into another winter for which heavy rains are forecast – and it ends the uncertainty underlying the protracted delays surrounding the Government decision to accede to their claims for relocation.

 Flood warning system recommended for Gort

Galway County Council is to submit a series of recommendations for flood relief across Galway to the OPW shortly. As part of the Catchment Flood Risk Assessment Management (CFRAM) project, which aims to provide flood mitigation measures across Ireland, the Council discussed the issues and concerns were raised about the cost benefit requirements for flood works.

The Council is hoping to secure measures including Voluntary Home Relocation, Flood Forecasting and Individual Property Protection.

One of the specific recommendations which will be made to the Office of Public Works for Galway is a flood warning system for Gort and the surrounding area.

February 10, 2012: Flood relief work to ensure no repeat of 2009 disaster

THE flooding nightmare that occurred in South Galway over two years ago is set to be averted as flood relief works on the main N18 began earlier this week – it is part of a €300,000 project for the area.

The Office of Public Works are constructing a culvert or passage underneath the main Galway to Gort road at Kiltartan so that the build-up of water on one side of the road can never happen again.

March 02, 2012 : Flood risk assessment forms key part of Gort’s new draft development plan

A detailed review of ‘flood risk zones’ along the Cannahowna River in Gort will form a major part of a new development plan currently being drafted for the South Galway town, that has twice been ravaged by flooding in the past two decades.

Galway County Council is already undertaking a ‘strategic flood risk assessment’ for the entire county to highlight areas that may be more prone to flooding but it says, “Gort may require a more detailed assessment”.

This assessment would form part of the new Gort Local Area Plan (LAP) 2012-2018, which planners are currently drawing up, and it would focus on identifying flood zone risks along what is known as the Cannahowna River or Gort River, which flows through the town.

Widespread damage to homes and businesses was caused in Gort during the 1995 floods and again, in December 2009, when properties along Crowe Street and the N18 were submerged following a deluge

 December 20, 2013; : More flood relief works earmarked for Galway

THE Government is continuing to invest in flood relief works in South Galway on the basis that this was one of the worst affected regions nationally during the severe flooding of November 2009.

OPW Minister Brian Hayes last week announced an investment of €22,500 at Derreen, Gort for the removal of blockages, pruning back of overhanging trees & removal of trees on the local river bank.

The investment has been welcomed by local Junior Minister Ciaran Cannon.

“This is yet another investment in flood relief works in South Galway and reflects our government’s ambition to minimise the number of flooding events in this region in the future.

“We can all recall how badly affected our local communities were in 2009 and works like this will help to alleviate such trauma in the future”, said Minister Cannon.

February 07, 2014 : Floods return to Galway as storms roll in Tens of thousands of acres of farmland remain under water as Ministers again ‘turn a blind eye’

Tens of thousands of acres of Galway farmland lie under water this week as farmers and families brace themselves for another weekend of wind and rain. Long-time campaigner for flood relief in South Galway, Mattie Hallinan, said that what was really heart-breaking for many people, especially in the Ardrahan and Ballinderreen areas, was that there was a ready solution to the flooding problem if channels to the sea were widened and properly maintained.

“It’s every bit as bad – if not worse – than the situation that applied in 2009. Water levels are rising through the week and with more rain on the way this weekend we are really looking at a crisis situation,” said Mattie Hallinan.

February 21, 2014 : Gardai called in to South Galway flooding disaster Fears that farmers’ lives are being put at risk as floods continue to rise

THE Gardai have now been contacted over the dangerous posed to the farming community because of the major flooding crisis in South Galway.

It has been claimed that whole stretches of road are covered in that farmers are in danger of drowning unless they use tractors or jeeps.

Thousands of acres of land across the county have been flooded by South Galway has again been worst affected by the heavy rains since the beginning of the year.

April 11, 2014 : OPW Minister visits areas hit by flooding

The Minister of State with responsibility for the Office of Public Works, Brian Hayes, visited South Galway on Monday to view first-hand the flooding which has devastated the area over recent months.

County Councillor Bridie Willers only returned to her home last week after she was forced to in February because of the floods.  But on Monday she welcomed the Minister of State’s visit to view the floods at first hand.  “It is good that the Minister of State has come view for himself the extent of the floods to see the hardships and inconveniences endured by people in South Galway for so long, to form a true picture of how much the farming community in particular has to contend with this recurrent problem, to appreciate that urgent remedial action by the authorities is needed to minimize the incidence and reach of South Galway flooding,” she said.

 December 18, 2015 :  Flood regions stay on high alert status

Farmers across large areas continue to be Long time campaigner for under serious flood pressure.

December 29, 2015 : South Galway flood areas described as ‘disaster zone’

The Taoiseach is being urged to immediately visit South Galway to see first-hand what’s being described as a ‘disaster zone’. Some parts of South Galway are badly flooded, and locals fear that Storm Frank will make matters worse.

Today, the defence forces are ferrying residents stranded by flooding in Gort to and from their homes.

Speaking to Galway Bay FM, County Councillor Michael Fahy called on Enda Kenny to visit the area and recognise the urgency of the situation.

December 29, 2015 : Floods in Galway: ‘We’re tired and distressed beyond words’

Former Fine Gael councillor Bridie Willers had to call the Civil Defence on December 26th, when the water came up through the floor of her 250-year-old house at Grannagh, near Ardrahan in south Galway.

“No one can say I built on a flood plain, when so many generations of my family have lived here,”she said.  “ I had to leave here in 2009, I had to leave in 2014, and now I’m out again . . . for how long, I don’t know,” Ms Willers said.

It’s mind boggling to think that they can’t find a solution to the way the rains rush off the Slieve Aughty mountains, and south Galway gets hit again and again,” she said.  We have thousands of acres of land flooded and roads washed away.

“We have no joined up thinking, only piecemeal solutions that push the problem elsewhere, and then any plan is objected to by environmentalists,” Ms Willers said.

“We are all in favour of turloughs and wildlife but people have to be able to live here too.

“We’re tired, depressed, distressed beyond words . . . and if only it would stop raining.”

4th January 2016: Emergency channel dug near Kinvara to relieve flooding

A channel has been dug as an emergency measure between Cahermore and Dunguaire, Kinvara to relieve flooding

January 5, 2016 : Kenny chairs emergency group meeting on flooding crisis

Taoiseach Enda Kenny is chairing a meeting of the National Emergency Co-ordination Committee in Dublin this afternoon during which the State’s response to the latest flooding crisis is to be discussed.

9 January 2016 : Enda Kenny tours South Galway flood zones

The Taoiseach is in South Galway this evening where he’s touring a number of areas affected by unprecedented flooding in recent weeks.

The Taoiseach has made his way to Peterswell in the past hour, and he’ll also be visiting Kiltartan, Labane and Kinvara later this evening.

15- to 20 homes remain flooded as Enda Kenny visits the region, while up to 60 people remain isolated by floodwaters across the area.

Fine Gael Deputy Ciaran Cannon says the Taoiseach is eager to hear proposals from locals in South Galway on how best to prevent future flooding.

May 19, 2016: Taoiseach announces 15 new junior ministers

This includes Independent TD Sean Canney – Minister of State for the OPW and Flood Relief.

Oct 17, 2016 :Some people in flood areas to be relocated – OPW Minister

A new State-backed relocation scheme for homes prone to flooding could be in place by this winter, Minister of State at the Office of Public Works Sean Canney has said.

Jun 10, 2017 : Threat of serious flooding leaves farmers ‘living in fear’

August 17th 2916: Major Milestone for South Galway Flood Relief Scheme

March 3, 2019: South Galway unlikely to dodge another major flood

Apr 04, 2019 : Fear of another South Galway flood is like holding a ticking time bomb

It has now been over three years since South Galway got ravaged by severe flooding events and there is a growing concern amongst residents in the area that the delays in flood relief solutions will increase risk of them suffering a major flood event again.

July 14, 2019: Minister Moran will leave no stone un-turned when it comes to delivering a Solution for South Galway

September 28, 2016 : Frustrations erupt over lack of South Galway flood relief progress

October 15, 2019 : South Galway Flood Relief Scheme faces months more delays

The long awaited and already frequently delayed South Galway Flood Relief Scheme is facing further delays of up to six months.

A feasibility study for phase 1 of the South Galway- Gort Lowlands Flood Relief Project has already been delayed by more than a year past its initial date.

But it has recently emerged that the project has been set back by a further 4 – 6 months for reasons which are not immediately clear.

May 17, 2020 : Flooding Feasibility Study now delayed until August 2020

August 29, 2020 : South Galway Flood Relief scheme feasibility decision is imminent

September 2020 – To Be Continued?

David Murray

References/ACknowledgements

As outlined at start, most of these article headlines and snippets are from Connacht Tribune, reporting mainly from John Flatley, Kevin O’ Sullivan, Conor Pope, John Cunningham, and Declan Tierney, Francis Farragher

South Galway Flood Relief scheme feasibility decision is imminent (Update)

The South Galway Flood Relief project has struggled against an underlying complexity of the hydrology dynamics and the newness of the science to get a feasibility result.  This project has broken new ground in many places which has added a lot of unpredictability to the overall timeline.  The publication of a feasibility report has been hampered by delay after delay and public patience has worn very think especially after the flooding threat in February and March this year.

In mid-May the agreed deadline of June 2020, which had been already pushed out from March was once again pushed out to August 2020

On Friday 28th August, Galway County Council’s Enda Gallagher issued the following statement:

I wish to confirm that the draft Feasibility Report is being made available for review to both the OPW and Galway County Council next Monday, 31st August.

Following review, it is expected that the  findings of the study will be published during the week ending Friday 25th September – the format of this publication is currently being considered.

If a feasible scheme is identified, the next steps in the process are:

  • Prepare Options Assessment Report
  • Prepare information for public display, possibly virtual (on line) consultation
  • Consult with statutory bodies on options
  • Go to Public Consultation on scheme options before the end of 2020

Following receipt and consideration of observations on the options for the scheme, the project will enter the five month Environmental Assessment period (EIAR & NIS).

The identification of a feasible option for our scheme (both from a cost / benefit and environmental perspective) would be a major milestone for the project and for the people of South Galway.


During this review period, this OPW will assess the report and issue a feasibility decision based on the report.  Essentially this decision is a Go/No-Go decision on the project and will seek two main criteria:

  1. Will the proposed scheme meet a Cost-Benefit criteria?
  2. Will the proposed scheme meet Environmental criteria.

Many South Galway communities are very anxious that we get a positive feasibility result. The past few decades have seen flooding frequency and severity increase and we have had report after report published that have deemed flood relief solutions as infeasible and the potential of solutions have evaporated away leaving so many people here continuously vulnerable and threatened by flooding. We have been let down by Governments in the past and the spotlight will now firmly land on Deputy Ciaran Cannon, Deputy Sean Canney and Minister Anne Rabbitte. These three have been very supportive of the project and the feasibility result will be a big part of their legacy.

The report due by Friday 25th of September is the single most important decision for flood relief in South Galway. If we get a positive feasibility result this will be an incredible landmark decision that will bring huge benefits to the many people affected – After decades of hardship, South Galway deserves a positive result

David Murray