Flooding in Kiltartan, Corker and Newtown – Nov 2009
When we had our local elections earlier this year – each of the candidate reported that the issue of South Galway flooding was one of the top of the issues reported from many in the community. In the past 6-8 months we had a focus meeting with Minister Moran, Minister Canney and Minister Canon, and Deputy Anne Rabbitte. Minister Moran’s promise was to ‘Leave no stone unturned’ when it came to finding solutions for South Galway. Because of delays in the Feasibility report, we held a public meeting in November to highlight our key concerns. Each of the elected representatives gave their update and outlined their past work and current commitments to the issue of flooding. Flooding was a bigger issue in the last General election because South Galway were just after a major flood in Winter 2015. So how have our elected representatives measured up since then? Have they been working on this issue? Have they been keeping it relevant and are they committed to this issue going forward?
Have our current public representatives been proactive in finding Flooding Relief solutions.
In general, the answer to this is ‘yes’. Canney, Cannon and Rabbitte in the aftermath of flooding were very focused on pushing flooding forward. Firstly, Cannon, and the new Government made a commitment to South Galway to tackle and deal with the flooding. The then Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, reformed the cabinet with a stronger focus on Flooding by creating an Minister of State for “the Office of Public Works & Flood Relief” and in charge of this he put Sean Canney (Who agreed a handover to Boxer Moran after 2 years) . Minister Canney met with SGFRC and started to firm up his approach to the project. He seconded experts in Turloughs and Hydrology (McCormick and Naughton) from TCD into GSI to start gathering the data required for the analysis and modelling of the project. He installed a dedicated Project Manager to define the Project brief and run the project. Canney’s early work and drive was essential to get the South Galway Flood Relief scheme/project up and running. It was a very tense time, when people just wanted ‘diggers in the ground’ but because of the complexity of the area, it would be years before feasible solutions would emerge.
Cannon was also active and responsive in this time, and worked closely with his County Council colleague Joe Byrne to keep flooding high on the agenda, nationally and locally and Rabbitte was responsive in getting clarification through Parliamentary questions on some of the burning issues. The SGFRC wanted to get more insight into some of the potential flooding sources and met with Minister Naughten (facilitated by Minister Canney) and Minister Doyle (Forestry) , facilitated by Minister Cannon. So overall good work getting the project up and running (which took about 1 year)
Complexities and Delays
As project progressed and complexities forced delays we did have several meetings (as indicated above) to highlight situation and to keep momentum on the project.
In general, because the project delays were due to engineering complexities there was very little political influence that could resolve the delays – however the end result needs stronger commitments.
Flooding solution Going Forward
You see, in 3 months time we will know the measure of flooding commitments because that’s when feasibility study is to be delivered. Minister Moran says he will leave no stone ‘unturned’ and the primary metric that will determine the success of this flooding – the ‘Benefit’, will be a measure of Minister Moran’s commitment.
The OPW normally uses a particular approach for measuring flood relief scheme ‘benefit’ (i.e. how much it will save) but this approach is based on the ‘Multi-Coloured Manual’ which is primarily focused on urban flooding. South Galway flooding is extremely unique (flooding for several months as opposed to hours/days) and this has been echoed by our representatives who have promised to take this uniqueness into consideration.
We need a different way of measuring benefit than the ‘urban-1 day flood’ way. In fact this is what Ryan Hanley consultants have been doing to get maximum benefit – look at the real picture and real impacts. But will they be allowed to use the real benefit or will they be locked into producing a ‘me-too’ analysis suited to urban flooding.
The decision to adapt this more relevant approach belongs to OPW (currently to Minister Moran) and one thing that we absolutely have to avoid is for OPW to turn around and say – ‘same again lads’ and throw out the actual benefit that we need.
The wheel has been turning for about 2-3 years now thanks to that initial effort by our elected representatives and the next 2 months are vital to ensuring it continues. We need them to leave no stone un-turned to get our best flood relief solution for this area.
If any election candidates turn up at your doorstep looking for your vote – see how much they know about the flooding in South Galway and whats being done. See if they intend to leave no stone un-turned in assessing the real impacts and getting the best for South Galway and getting rid of flooding once and for all.
We haven’t heard anything anything yet from new candidates. If any candidates want to send anything relevant on their position, then please do so by Tuesday 4th Feb and I’ll will put up on this blog.