It’s that time of the year when thoughts of flooding are far from people’s minds – but we will soon be reaching a critical phase of the project and we need to keep a close eye on this as we hit our first gating point of the project.
The next 6 months will include critical decision-making as the Hydrology model is complete and feasibility is well under way – targeting Project Approval by end of this year – but there are still risks that the project will not be approved.
The current feasibility study is over 1 year behind and we should not tolerate any more slippage. South Galway communities cannot tolerate more project delays and spill the approval into 2020
From talking to GCC recently the hydrology model is being used extensively to assess flooding scenarios and look at effects and impacts of different mitigation strategies – so we are now in a more predictable stage of the project and it will take another few months to converge on a preferred solution. The models are being run by Trinity College Dublin (Who have developed the model) based on sized channels provided by Ryan Hanley – the Design consultants. This is an iterative process as tweaks are made to channel sizes, culvert sizes etc. TCD will also be involved in completing Climate Change analysis and assisting in salinity analysis. Once a solution has emerged then there are several reports to produce (as outlined in the project brief)
- Hydrology Report
- Flood Risk Management Plan
- Feasibility Report
- Final Report (Cost-Benefit-Analysis, EIAR, Recommendations)
This is a rough picture of the timeline for 2019.
There are a significant amounts of information to compile and this should be done by Mid-November 2019 after which it moves into an approvals stage and we should have decision on Feasibility of the project by end if 2019. It is important that Galway County council keep to this schedule.
There are also many approvals required for these reports – something that if not planned correctly could run into months. This process involves our Design Consultants (Ryan Hanley) ,our Environment consultants (Mott MacDonald), Trinity College Dublin, and the project Steering board (including the OPW) and need to be managed properly by Galway County Council,
Dead in the water?
If people remember back to the infamous 2010-2011 ‘South Galway Flood Study Report‘ by Jennings – O’ Donovan, within which they deemed the project as ‘infeasible‘ and along with it – flood relief measures were canned. This was mainly a cost-benefit issue where they tagged a €45 million cost to the project – without working out any clear benefit.
At the same time – the Tarmon Flood relief proposal did not proceed because of Environmental Issues
So aside from risk of delays, we face these same risks at the moment as the potential project killers are Cost-Benefit issues and environmental issues.
The cost-benefit is being worked out by using the hydrology model along with Rainfall events. We are really hoping that the real impacts and frequency of these flooding events will be reflected in the benefit.
The Benefit will not be calculated from past flooding but from predicted future flooding and will include climate-change modelling – which should give us a potentially larger benefit
If the benefit is less then the cost then the project will be deemed financially infeasible and not proceed. In order for it to proceed – this will require Ministerial intervention which has been promised to us in the past. Will these commitments be honored in this case?
Also another key issue is around the Environmental Constraints that have been identified by Environmental Consultants:
- Limestone Shelf in Ballinastaig
- Limestone Shelf in Ballinastaig
- Habitat in Caherglassaun SAC
- Habitat in Caherglassaun SAC
- Kinvara Bay
The solution will need to consider these aspects thoroughly and ensure there is minimal impact.
The South Galway Flood Relief Committee (SGFRC) invited our new elected County Councillors to an update/alignment meeting on Wednesday 5th June in Sullivan’s Hotel to indicate where we were in the project timeline and to highlight concerns on the Flood Relief project. The meeting was attended by Cllr Joe Byrne, Cllr Geraldine Donohue and Cllr. P.J. Murphy and several members of the SGFRC. (Apologies were sent from Cllr Kinane who could not attend). Cllr Finnerty turned up as the meeting was ending.
Our first item was of course to congratulate our Councillors on their positive election outcome.
We went through the current status and timeline of the project and did highlight that we are moving into a more predictable phase of the project. We also highlighted that we felt there was a strong feeling of an overall project team that were working diligently and collaboratively towards solving the frequent flooding crisis.
That been said, there are real concerns and the key asks from SGFRC is that we need to keep on top of this project going forward:
- Focus on delivery, delivery, delivery
- Manage the risks properly
- Communicate delays and mitigations
Cllr. Joe Byrne is well up to speed on the South Galway Flooding situation and new Councillors Geraldine Donohue and P.J Murphy both indicated this was one of the major topics for many people that they met when canvassing. They are quickly coming up to speed on this project and the current situation and we look forward to their input and drive on this.
The SGFRC also would like our County Councillors to work as a team and be very proactive on this. At Galway County Council Monthly municipal meeting there is an standing agenda item on South Galway Flooding Project status. There is an opportunity in this monthly meeting to get clarity on current situation and also call for actions to ensure we keep to our project delivery.
This was received positively by our Councillors and we see how they put this into actin.
In the near future the SGFRC will also aim to refresh support and commitments given at Ministerial level to ensure that this project can progress through the feasibility stage.
So, while the sun is shining and we approach the longest day of the year – the flooding situation can sometimes be forgotten. However it is very important for us to be diligent now to ensure that we get this feasibility complete and project approval as soon as possible. I would ask that even as we approach the height of our summer, please continue to give your support to this situation that will return to haunt our community during the next few winters.
Chair, South Galway Flood Relief Committee