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Dublin: 14 °C Thursday 22 August, 2019
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We put concerns about Cork's Drainage Scheme to the people in charge of it

Cork city are to receive €140 million as part of the Drainage Scheme – the biggest one of it’s kind in the history of the state.

The city have been subjected to serious flooding incidents in the past - which ruined homes and businesses.
The city have been subjected to serious flooding incidents in the past - which ruined homes and businesses.
Image: Shutterstock/lola1960

CORK CITY RESIDENTS in the middle of a debate about whether a flood relief plan, which will involve removing old, low stone walls and replacing them with tall concrete blocks, is a good plan.

Cork city are to receive €140 million as part of the Drainage Scheme which will be implemented on a phased based over 6-7 years.

But activist group Save Cork City have a list of concerns with the proposed plan, and have serious doubts over whether it will work or not.

We put some of their concerns to the Office of Public Works, who carry out structural works for the State, and here is what they had to say.

Pump stations

A series of pump stations are to be built along the river (eg. at Pope’s Quay) to pump out water in the event of flooding.

Are these pump stations really expected to go from nought to full operating capacity when there is a flood?

The OPW responded:

Pump stations on the Scheme will typically include two to three individual pumps within the chamber, whose combined capacity will discharge the design flow. This arrangement allows a staged ramp-up, rather than a sudden ramp up in capacity.

shutterstock_399659251 Source: Shutterstock/harnchoke punya

Waste water

How will waste water of the city cope with the additional water surges that will be brought into the city centre.

What is to stop water coming up through the pipes behind the quay walls in the city at peak river volumes if sewer outfalls and non-return valves are not constantly maintained and controlled?

The OPW responded:

All drainage outfalls to the river will have non-return valves fitted as part of the proposed scheme. All non-return valves will be maintained in proper repair and effective condition by the OPW or their agents as required under section 37 of the Arterial Drainage Act 1945.

Historical artefacts

The city of Cork is to be turned into a building site for the duration of the works (6-10 years according to the report), and historical artefacts are to be removed.

Will the scheme be in keeping the international standards set by the Washington Charter (1987) and Venice Charter (1964) for interventions into historic places?

The OPW responded:

While neither Charter referred to has any significance in Irish law, it must be pointed out that this scheme has been developed in close collaboration with Cork City Council and all finished on walls and railings are as suggested by the City Council and agreed by OPW.
To arrive at its position on finishes, the City Council drew on the services of the City Architect, Heritage, Parks and Roads Section as well as external landscape consultants.

Plan B

Can the OPW guarantee that this scheme will future-proof the city from flooding in years to come? In addition, is there a workable back-up plan in place if it does fail?

The OPW responded:

The scheme has been designed to the 1 in 100 year fluvial / 1 in 200 year tidal standard, plus an allowance for freeboard. This standard is in accordance with all OPW flood relief schemes, and will provide a high standard of protection for properties within the defended area.
Furthermore, the scheme will be designed to be adaptable for climate change in the future if necessary. The scheme will incorporate all appropriate factors of safety, freeboard and redundancy. If a design exceedance event is forecast, the appropriate emergency response plan will be implemented by the relevant authorities.

There is currently a public consultation underway at the moment: if you want to be involved, email claire.anderson@opw.ie marking suggestions clearly with ‘Lower Lee (Cork City) Drainage Scheme’ and include a name and address before 17 February.

Read: Careful out there: Motorists urged to watch out for flying debris in high winds

Read: Architects and planners concerned that Cork flood defence plan won’t work

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