Frustrations erupt over lack of South Galway flood relief progress

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Last Winters flooding in Skehanna (Courtesy of Sean Brady Aerial Photography)

The communities of South Galway that have been plunged into crisis several times in recent decades have recently rallied together to form the South Galway Flood Relief Committee.

 

“As the year has progressed we’ve found that the priority assured to us in South Galway during and immediately after the flooding emergency of winter 2015 has become very diluted”, said David Murray, who runs the ‘South Galway Floods’ Facebook page and corresponding blog site https://southgalwayfloods.wordpress.com/

 

“We’ve spent a lot of time this year analysing and detailing the problems at each locality until we’ve come up with a very good understanding of what is happening in the overall picture of South Galway flooding. We know what the problems are and we have a very good idea of the solutions – and they are simpler and cheaper  than what was previously anticipated.  What we have found, however, is that the assurances and priority we were given pre-election have dissipated,  communications have been ambiguous, and the investigation or design of solutions hasn’t even started.  The whole collective community of South Galway is extremely frustrated with the inaction. We’ve decided as a community that we need to come together on this and get firm commitment and execution on a rapid solution delivery.”  he continued.

 

Murray, with other members from South Galway communities, has recently formed the South Galway Flood Relief Committee from the Slieve Aughty mountains to the sea, at Kinvara.  The objective of this committee is to progressively drive the rapid delivery of solutions to alleviate flooding crises in South Galway.  The committee currently consists of Tom Fahy, Colm Burke, Michael Cahill , David Murray,  Eugene Nolan , Michael Flaherty , Padraig Linnane, Seamus Kelly, Martin McInerney  and Joe Keane as well as a groundswell of support from across the community.  

 

“We have a brilliant collection of communities in South Galway that all worked extremely hard last winter to support the communities most affected by the flooding. At this stage I’m getting calls every other day from people asking if they can help out. That shows the support there is for this in South Galway as a whole.  John Sullivan of Sullivan’s hotel has also offered his hotel facilities for any committee, or public meetings.  Sean Brady has been instrumental in helping us build a full picture of flooding impacts with his drone photography. ” he said.

 

The committee have already penned a letter to Minister Sean Canney requesting to  him to attend a meeting with the committee and bring the relevant representatives to the table – including OPW, TII(NRA), NPWS, Coillte, Galway County Council.  As Minister for Flood Relief, this is what he has been empowered to do and the committee will be asking questions that will clarify the commitment, plan and timeline for flooding solutions in South Galway.

 

Breaking news for South Galway Flooding – ‘Responsibility’ has been proposed

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It’s not quite what we were all hoping for given the increasing levels of anxiety and stress in South Galway as we near the winter rains but there has been a dramatic decision for South Galway Flooding solution.

After 8 months of deliberation a decision has been made :

On the week of the 12th Sept 2016 Galway County Council has now proposed themselves as the lead agency for delivering a solution to South Galway Flooding

Major schemes (which are over €500,000 and require normally EIS, and subject to An Bord Pleanala approval etc) are normally done by OPW but sometimes councils become lead agency.   After months wasted in this deliberation – The OPW have finally asked Galway County Council to submit a proposal to the OPW to become the lead agency for delivering a proper channel from Coole + surrounding communities to the sea. Wahoo!! [It’s ok, my sacrasm has just peaked]

Honestly – Is this all we have right now? A proposal on whose responsibility it is for designing and delivering a flooding solution.  What we don’t have is some working on the ground joining up the basins in South Galway.

  • We don’t have a digger on the ground making the situation better for the upcoming winter. We don’t have any new culverts that can take water to the sea!
  • We don’t have someone out taking levels
  • We don’t have someone submitting applications for review
  • We don’t have someone designing a solution

There is nobody actually ‘looking’ at a solution right now ….. and (it gets worse)  – there is nobody to do this work.

Galway County Council have recently moved people  experienced with these types of projects.

Concerns have been highlight that engineering staff who had been dealing with flooding in Gort and Portumna have now been transferred to other areas, including Tuam.  However, Galway County Council says every effort is being made to replace staff who have left or moved on to other districts.”– Connacht Tribune

Picture this in the business world – you have what you are deeming to be a high-priority task that needs to be delivered in a timely manner- do you ask an under-resourced, non-competent supplier to become the project lead?  You would go out of business very quickly if you did.  So what is really happening here? Is our Minister for OPW and Flood Relief, Sean Canney and the OPW simply passing the buck? Have we been witnessing a slow-motion game of hot-potato between OPW and Galway County Council?   At the end of the day the ultimate responsibility lies with Minister for OPW and Flood Relief but he has now placed this into Minister Simon Coveney’s hands.

Aside : Galway County Council seems to have the resources to be submitting proposals for the upgrade of 50 roads in Galway  but have no resources for looking at flooding solutions. In fact some of these road upgrades will have severe flooding consequences and make some situations even worse.

Galway County council has a proposed list of other minor works schemes (Build an  embankment here, raise the road there, build a wall here …)  but compared to what the community is looking for, this is just noise

The patience in this community in wearing very thin with the lack of progress and people will either look for action … or take it themselves.