Five year wait for flood defences

News that it will be at least five years before any major investment is made in flood defence measures in the Athlone area was met with dismay by Athlone town councillors this week.

In addition, a flood forecasting system is unlikely to be in place before 2012, although the council is monitoring water level gauges on the Shannon in an effort to avoid a repeat of last winter’s flooding crisis.

The Athlone Flood Committee presented its latest report to the council on Monday this week.

It outlines how the Office of Public Works (OPW ), the national competent authority in the area of flooding, is in the process of preparing a flood risk management plan, to be completed by 2015, before which major investment in flood defences will not be made.

There was positive news for residents of Iona Villas and The Strand, where flood defence works to the tune of €177,000 and €289,000 respectively have been approved.

While it is anticipated that work at Iona Villas will be completed before the end of October, the works to be undertaken at The Strand are more complex and will require a specialist consultant. Works here will commence before the end of this year.

However, the Deerpark, Parnell Square, The Park, and Canal Banks areas will have to wait until 2015 to see any large scale defences in place. In the Clonbonny area, resources are unavailable for the estimated cost of €50,000 per house for flood defences.

The council confirmed it is working closely with Waterways Ireland and the OPW to ensure that significant changes in the river level in Athlone are communicated as early as possible to those people who might be affected, and that the ESB and Waterways Ireland are operating a different system this year to control the levels of the Shannon.

Councillors are hoping to travel to Ardnacrusha in the coming months to gain an insight into how river levels are monitored, at the request of Cllr Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran.

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