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.
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.
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.
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)
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.