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OFFICE OF PUBLIC WORKS Before the Deluge Tony Smyth, Director of Engineering Services and Chief Engineer in the Office of Public Works, talks John Walshe through the OPW's efforts to revolutionise flood risk management in Ireland via the Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management (CFRAM) programme.
The CFRAM programme is set EU FLOODS DIRECTIvE
that need to be addressed in a plan of this risk There are three main reporting stages required nature. We want to keep communication management in Ireland. The key under the EU Floods Directive: preliminary channels open between the OPW and local initiative to meet the requirements flood risk assessment, which was completed authorities right through the project." of the 2007 EU Floods Directive, CFRAM is this year, flood hazard mapping, which is When CFRAM is complete, there will "very ambitious", according to Tony Smyth, currently underway and due for completion be benefits for local authorities, according Director of Engineering Services and Chief in 2013, and the establishment of catchment to Smyth: "They will have systematically Engineer with the Office of Public Works flood risk management plans, which are to be mapped the areas that are at risk from (OPW).
completed by 2015. The CFRAM programme flooding. This will then help to inform "CFRAM is a new approach to identifying will deliver on these goals.
development plans and local area plans so flood risk systematically and mapping it," The EU Water Framework Directive that we get better planning decisions and Smyth explains. "One of the biggest benefits divides the country into six river basin we're not building projects in areas that are is that it should lead to better planning and districts, and the OPW has appointed at risk from flooding. CFRAM will effectively development decisions because we will engineering consultants to each district to help to contain the level of risk for future have better information on the areas at risk develop a flood plan for every river in the development plans.
from flooding. country where there is a significant risk of "From a local authority's perspective, "There are also advantages for emergency flooding. knowing what is at risk, how frequently response planning. Local authorities and the "The programme is structured so that the and how intensely it is likely to flood will public will know what areas are liable to OPW, the consultants and Local Authority help them to develop emergency response flood, what areas will flood first and how the representatives are on the project steering plans," he continues. "Knowing what areas flood will progress. The information coming group for each of these projects," Smyth will flood first and what way a flood will from CFRAM will hopefully lead to a much explains. "We want the local authorities to propagate will be a big advantage, in terms enhanced awareness of flood risk for local be able to keep their elected members up to of dealing with people who will be affected authorities and individuals at risk." date on progress and we want them to bring first. It will enable them to deliver a better to the steering group the various local issues flood response plan and then to improve the Purposes of the CFRAM programme:
• To assess and map existing and
Aerial view of flooding in Carrick - on - Shannon, Co. Leitrim potential future flood risk, through the identification of flood hazard areas and the associated impacts of flooding; • To identify viable structural and non- structural measures and options for managing the flood risks for localised high-risk areas and within the catchment as a whole; • To prepare a strategic CFRAM programme and associated Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) that set out the measures and policies that should be pursued by the OPW, local authorities and other stakeholders to achieve the most cost-effective and sustainable management of flood risk within the catchment area.
OFFICE OF PUBLIC WORKS of towns and we will continue to move on Claregalway, Co. Galway was severely flooded recently those projects, subject to the availability of Exchequer funding." ECONOMIC BENEFITSSmyth warns, however, that with most works of this nature, they are more costly if they're not done.
"We don't progress a project unless there is an economic benefit in terms of balancing the total cost of the scheme against assessing the damage that is prevented from occurring with the scheme in place over a 50-year life cycle." Full environmental impact assessments are carried out on every project, with the engineering and environmental consultants working "hand-in-glove right from project inception". Like with the CFRAM programme, each project has a steering committee involving the OPW, the consultants and the local operation of the emergency response when a flood actually happens." CatChment Flood Risk assessment and management study CAPITAL WORKS PROgRAMMEOf course, CFRAM is not the only strand The pilot CFRAM Study on the River Lee included the following:
of the OPW's flood relief strategy, which • The production of over 1,100 flood maps showing flood extents, flood depths also includes extensive capital works, with and velocities.
investments of €218 million in the last • Some 250km of channel surveys and over 275 square km of detailed 3D decade. While CFRAM deals with "the long floodplain models.
term future for flood risk management in • Development of nine detailed hydraulic computer models of the river and its Ireland", the capital works programmes deal with "the legacy issues".
• Production of an inception report, Strategic Environmental Assessment According to Smyth, the ongoing major (SEA) scoping and final reports, hydrology report and hydraulics report.
capital works throughout the country are vital because "mistakes were made in the past through not having sufficient information on areas at risk from flooding". However, he also cites weather changes as a fundamental factor: "There weren't very many flood events through the 1970s and ‘80s, particularly, but since the 1990s, we are getting weather as wet as it was back in the 1940s and ‘50s, and areas that we didn't realise were at risk of flooding have been built on in the meantime. So now we must go back and protect those areas by building flood schemes, which is very costly, but the works are progressing." He cites a number of examples of major flood management works, including Clonmel, Waterford, Claregalway and Ennis: "There is good progress being made in a number
OFFICE OF PUBLIC WORKS one of the 300 PFRA areas, they should In general terms, however, Tony Smyth One third of the OPW's strategy covers be advised that there may be a flood risk feels the co-operation between the OPW minor mitigation works/coastal protection, and it needs further examination, instead of and local authorities is "hugely important whereby the OPW provides direct funding simply being refused planning permission for the continued improvement of flood to local authorities for smaller projects. solely on the basis of the PFRA." relief management in Ireland." "If the local area engineer can identify a project, such as small works or embankment works, which can have a very real impact, such as protecting a group of houses, for a relatively small amount of money, we can fund it directly," explains Smyth, who reveals that some of these minor works have budgets of up to €300,000. heartburn."
LOCAL AUTHORITIESOne area where Smyth feels local authorities may need to be more careful is in terms of using the OPW's draft Preliminary Flood Risk Assessments (PFRAs) as the sole basis for refusing that whilst this data is at a strategic level to identify areas of potential flooding, it is not valid at individual site level.
"The information is available to people and is useful in terms of giving them notice For Effective, 24 Hour
of a potential flooding problem, but we are anxious that it be Available now in your local pharmacy. Ask your pharmacist for advice.
used properly and not misused," Smyth warns. looking for planning 2011/ADV/PAN/065. Take one tablet daily. Do not exceed the recommended dose. Gastrolief 20 mg gastro-resistant tablets should not be chewed or crushed, and should be swallowed whole with liquid before a meal. Contains Pantoprazole. Only available in pharmacy. Always read the label carefully before use. Date prepared: June 2011.
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