Revealed: The €50m defence plan to save Cork from flooding disasters

More controlled releases of water from ESB dams ahead of extreme weather events, and various structural changes in the city and suburbs, feature in a plan to save Cork from future flood disasters.

In the first clear picture of the measures that are likely to be undertaken to prevent further personal and economic damage from flooding of the River Lee and its tributaries, the Office of Public Works is today publishing the emerging, preferred option for a flood-relief scheme for the city, which is expected to cost at least €50m.

As well as efforts to prevent the kind of discharges from the ESB’s Inniscarra dam, 16km west of the city, that contributed to catastrophic flooding of Cork and its western suburbs in November 2009, a number of defences are also planned. These include:

nRaised quay walls and embankments in the city centre, and on the smaller Curraheen and Glasheen rivers;

nPossible raising of the Cornmarket St footbridge (in place less than a decade) and St Vincent’s pedestrian bridge over the Lee’s city centre north channel;

nFloodgates on some footbridges and boardwalks in the city;

nLocal defences at Inchagaggin to prevent Lee floodwaters entering the Curraheen.

Perhaps more controversially, some areas between the dam and the city may have to be designated as ‘washlands’, which would be flooded by greater discharges in advance of expected extreme rainfall.

In addition, a flow-reduction structure on the south channel would see a greater proportion of water flows diverted to the north channel during extreme events.

The details of these measures, and works to prevent flooding in the northside suburbs of Blackpool and Ballyvolane, will be on display in Cork City Hall from this afternoon and over the next week.

Feedback will be considered before a public exhibition of the outline design before Christmas, and formal submissions at that stage will help form the final shape of the Lower Lee (Cork City) Flood Relief Scheme. The response has been in planning since soon after the 2009 flood, but it could be 2016 before major works get under way.

Minister of state Simon Harris, whose responsibilities included the OPW, said the timescale will depend on public acceptance of the proposed scheme and the amount of changes that may be proposed.

The publication comes as the hearing of a potential €19m damages case taken by UCC against the ESB, for the effects on its facilities of the 2009 flood, enters its sixth week in the Commercial Court.

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