Over 3 months ago I presented an overview of how flooding comes down from Slieve Aughty mountains and fills 7 basins on its way to the sea.What I’ve found out since is simply unbelievable. A huge amount of flooding in South Galway could be alleviated in a week. The ‘channel’ that has been discussed for many years is not a 5km – 7m deep channel proposed by Jennings-O’Donovan/OPW (at the cost of 46Million). It’s not a 500m-600m channel that we guesstimated a few months back – It is in fact more close to a 100m channel 2m deep that could be funded with a few church gate collections.
In April 2016, at a public meeting in Sullivan’s Hotel, I presented a view on how the basins filled and flowed into each other down from the Slieve Aughty mountains. It was the basin at Caherglassaun, however, that was of major concern. It’s lip (the place where it overflows from) was in fact higher then the previous basin (Coole) and as such the whole Coole area would rise alongside Caherglassaun until the lip overflowed. This rise in Coole is what led to flooding in Coole, Killamoran, Roo, Garryland, Hawkhill, Glenbrack, Tierneevin, Crannagh, Ballnastaig, Corker, Raheen and Kiltartan and covered over 20 KMsq of an area. This is illustrated below:
After analysis I proposed that if this lip was lowered by 2-3m, then this would alleviate the majority of flooding in this area. After looking at maps I though that this was several hundred metres. I highlighted where this lip was in Caherglassaun
A few days after this public presentation in Sullivan’s Hotel, I got several phone calls from some local people affected by the flooding and they were very excited by a find that they had made. They went in search of the lip and could not believe what they found and asked me out to take a look.
I was in shock when I saw what they found. The picture above shows Caherglassaun and how the water flows out from it through a woodland. if we take a closer look at this from above we get this :
Water overflows from Caherglassaun through a woodland and into a field (Paddy O Grady’s) and then it flows across a natural channel and across the road at John Willie Leeches. The surprise for us was where it exited the woodland – shown here as “The ‘lip'”
When you enter the woodland there is a distinctive channel within it, a natural overfrlow channel by the look of it, coming up from Cahergassun lake all the way up to the field. It’s about 2 m deep and 5m wide and is illustrated here:
While this natrual overflow channel was a surprise, the biggest one was this channel was blocked by a 9 ft wall.
The wall looks like this:
In the height of Winter 2015 flooding in the area, water was rushing over this wall and falling into the field whose level is above head-height here. As you can see the flooding here dragged lots of rubbish through it. There are a few things to note about this wall.
- The height of the wall to the level in the woodland is ~2.4m
- Immediately in front of the picture is a small wall about 3ft high. This is the original wall and one also skirts perpendicular through the channel
- Behind the original wall (small stones), you can seen much larger boulders. These are backed against the small wall and tower over it. On top of these are smaller rocks
On further investigation there are trees that are buried 6-8ft in boulders. Beyond this wall is a flat field that dips down again. and this points toward land that has been reclaimed some time on this past. It was confirmed by a local farmer that this field was reclaimed in the 1970’s.
EEC funded schemes such as the ‘Farm Modernization Scheme’ gave grants to farmers for them to ‘improve’ their lands and typically meant removing hedgerows, wetland drainage and making the land more manageable by removing boulders, mounds, dips etc. For farmers in the west of Ireland, with a heavy limestone region, this became an opportunity to remove boulders and fill in holes. Unfortunately this also meant potential blockage of swallow holes or overflow channels, some that may never have overflowed in generations. That was the 1970s and this is not about attributing blame on farmers that followed government backed incentives. These are just fact;
- There have been 100s of Karst features/swallow holes filled in around South Galway
- The overflow at Caherglassaun is blocked due to land reclamation
- The overflow at Cahermore was blocked due to land reclamation
There probably isn’t a locality in South Galway that hasn’t contributed to this.
Some time in the past, this flat field was a number of smaller fields which had outcrops/hills in them (OS Map) and this was reclaimed into a larger, more manageable flat field.
On the orignal OS map, there are mounds indicated in the field. This would have been bumpy, even hilly land and with land reclaimation there were removed and the big boulders were used to create a new level to which the field was leveled.
Today it looks like this.
The OPW Channel
Why did this not come up in the Jenning’s – O’ Donovan OPW report? Why were there different levels and a different path marked out? Why did they not come across this lip and plan accordingly? The OPW simply didn’t do their ground work. Their path was skirting the East boundary of the wall which is much higher elevation and would cost more to implement.
The Great News – a weeks work!
Rather then dwelling on the past – we can embrace this as great news! Replacing the boulder wall with a fence of will probably take 1 m off the lip and then we need something like 1m-1.5me more for 100m which, when compared to a 5km, 7m deep channel is insignificant – a mere week’s work. The channel can be gentle dip that is returned to grassland afterwards. Cahermore will have a piped channel that can progress the water so overall the water is kept flowing and flows earlier stopping that build-up. [From previous analysis I’ve given a figure of 50m3/second as a guideline of type of flows that we can anticipate based on previous high flood events. The OPW + Galway county council and landowners were presented this figure and I assume our will have sized the piping accordingly, after their own calculations]
The Bad News – nobody is doing anything!
I’ve known about this lip for a few months and I and several people have made our public representatives aware of this. I’ve talked with Sean Canney , Ciaran Cannon and Joe Byrne (Galway CoCo) + there are other members of Galway County Council involved in discussions with local farmers. There has been a lot of talk about this scheme and that scheme, CFRAM, flood forums and reports but there is currently no action attributed to this glaringly obvious simple solution.
These elected representatives have committed to helping us solve the flooding issues in our localities and as we head into a very unpredictable winter – It seems that our government representatives are powerless in the face of a bureaucracy that will take even 7 years to take a shovel to the ground. There is still no flooding forum, there are no proposed solutions, there is no communication. Please communicate the current plan (or lack thereof) on fixing South Galway.
This work would fall into a minor work scheme. The farmer who owns the field, Paddy O’ Grady, who has been on flooding committees before, is extremely supportive of this work so the only thing really blocking the flow is action by our government bodies.
Call to Action!
This analysis didn’t cost 2 million to produce (I wish it did!). This channel is not going to cost 46Million to complete. Lowering the lip by 2.4m (the original level of the land) would alleviate a huge amount of the flooding crisis for many townlands around the immediate Coole, Caherglassaun basins and also have benefits upstream.
The stress that the current situation is causing has not been removed. Many hard-working people in this area are living with this fear and uncertainty and it’s time that our elected representatives get their act together and implement what has turned out to be minor work, reverting the landscape as it should be.
I will be calling another meeting soon, gathering the people affected by this and looking for the support of these communities to compel our representatives to take action. I think the people of Coole, Killamoran, Roo, Garryland, Hawkhill, Gort, Glenbrack, Tierneevin, Crannagh, Ballnastaig, Corker, Raheen, Kiltartan and other areas affected won’t take this lack of support lightly.
Please share this post and raise the awareness of this simple solution.