A total of €6 million in funding has been allocated by the Office of Public Works (OPW ) for the undertaking of flood prevention measures for the Athlone area, due to commence in mid-2017.
The announcement was made by Minister of State for the OPW and Flood Relief, Sean Canney, last Thursday, October 6, at the Athlone Civic Centre. The news means that Athlone has been taken out of the Shannon Flood Risk and Management (CFRAM ) process and will be dealt with separately.
“Given the flooding experienced in Athlone during last winter, it has been decided to advance the works in this town,” Minister Canney said. “The OPW and Westmeath County Council are working together on the development of a flood relief scheme for the town. The OPW has agreed to a request from the council to fund the development and implementation of the scheme for Athlone based on the options identified in the Shannon CFRAM report.”
Those options include the building of 10 walls, eight embankments, the raising of four roads, the development of six floodgates, and the introduction of a water storage area in Garrycastle to deal with any flooding from the River Al.
Minister Canney revealed that the OPW has also agreed to fund some advance interim remedial works in the town at Canal Walk and Griffith Street, and these will be completed this year. This is in conjunction with works being carried out by Westmeath County Council in enhancing their underground pipe work and drainage systems and installation of non-return valves.
It is anticipated that work will commence mid-2017, in advance of the CFRAM process being concluded, in order to fast-track the protection of people in their homes. When completed this project will provide protection to approximately 250 homes.
Minister Canney added that the issue of establishing a single authority for the Shannon will be discussed further with all relevant stakeholders. While he said such a move is complex due to the number of agencies with an invested interest and due to “serious environmental constraints”, he pledged to continue to work to find solutions to the problems presented. “The overriding aim of all of this is the protection of communities, both urban and rural,” he said.