The €8.8m investment by the OPW will take an estimated two years to complete and create 25 jobs during the construction phase.
The work is aimed at protecting over 400 properties from a one-in-100-years flooding event and is also designed to improve the appearance of the quayside and banks of the John’s River.
Previous phases of the flood defence scheme involved the main quays secured from flooding with a kilometre-long glass flood wall along the River Suir.
Upcoming work, to be carried out by contractors Niall Barry & Co and consulting engineers RPS Group, will bring city-wide flood defences to the same standards as those now in place by the quays.
Other features include a dedicated footpath and cycleway alongside the John’s River which will improve car-free access to the 50-acre Nature Park opened at Kilbarry earlier this year.
At yesterday’s sod-turning ceremony, OPW minister Brian Hayes said he was “delighted” to officially start the final phase of a “critically-important” scheme.
“The construction cost of this phase is almost €9m with an investment of close to €10m to complete the overall scheme. When completed, the latest works will provide protection for 417 properties in Waterford.”
Mayor of Waterford Cllr Jim D’Arcy said the city was struck by flooding “far too often” in the past. “We have already seen real benefits from the investment made by the OPW on the quays and the focus now shifts to some of the secondary locations where there have still been issues, as we saw as recently as last week.”
Mr Darcy said, as well as the obvious direct economic cost, flooding is also “hugely distressing” for householders and business owners whose properties are hit. Radically reducing the risk of that happening is a great investment and the OPW is to be congratulated for its vision in this regard, he said.
Director of services for environmental and planning at Waterford City Council, Colette Byrne said the delivery of a comprehensive flood relief scheme has been a priority of the council for years. The partnership with the OPW to deliver the overall scheme for the city is “a good model of best practice” in terms of public bodies working together towards a shared goal for the community, Ms Byrne said.