Enhanced regional defences could place additional strain on Waterford
While Waterford city’s flood defences were acknowledged for standing up to the task posed by Storm Frank, one City & County Councillor has warned against the local authority resting on its laurels in the likelihood of future major weather events.
Addressing the Emergency Council Meeting held in Dungarvan on Tuesday last, Cllr Jim Griffin (SF), who is also Area Officer of the Dunmore East Coast Guard, sounded a note of caution about the city and east county’s future flood prevention capabilities.
“All of the other counties I was in (with the Coast Guard) commented upon how well Waterford city had coped, and the planners and engineers in the city can draw some satisfaction on that front – and our outdoor staff have been absolutely outstanding,” he said.
“But have no doubt, in our neighbouring counties, all of their Councils will be meeting in the next few days and calling for more flood defences.”
He added: “Carrick-on-Suir will be seeking improvements, and that’s going to send more water to Waterford, the same in Graiguenamanagh, where flood defences, once in place, will send more water in the directions of both Cheekpoint and Passage, so we can’t rest on our laurels when it comes to the city’s flood defences such as they currently are. So we need to be planning ahead and we need to stay ahead of everyone else.”
Cllr Griffin, who along with his Coast Guard colleagues, were tasked in four different counties in the wake of Storm Frank, said the “lack of joined up thinking between local authorities and emergency services” was commented upon by many residents.
“Pre-planning is what’s going to help us in the future when it comes to events like this, especially since expert opinion tells that storms and floods like this are going to be become more regular features of future weather patterns…and I don’t think we’re out of the woods with the weather this winter yet, not by a long shot…
“Local knowledge is huge, and we went up mountain roads in Inistioge to get families out of their homes who in some instances had floodwater up to their mantelpieces – and we’d not have known where we were meant to go had it not been for local knowhow and knowledge, we’d have been at a complete loss and we need to recognise such local knowledge when it comes to future pre-planning.”
The call for improved flood defences elsewhere along the Three Sisters River System has already been made in both towns referenced by Cllr Griffin in the wake of the December 29th/30th storm.
The Suir/Barrow/Nore river system is the second largest in Ireland, taking in a catchment area of more than 9,000km2 (3,474 square miles; the Republic of Ireland occupies 27,136 square miles).
As the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has noted, “the Barrow, Suir and Nore are, after the Shannon, respectively, the second, third and fifth longest rivers in Ireland. The three, which may be considered as a single river system, drain the greater part of the south-east of the country”.