The opening of the Weir gates in Galway combined with the success of the new bridge works in Claregalway has prevented a repeat of the flooding which impacted on so many homes and businesses along the Clare River catchment area over the past two years.
This is the claim made by Deputy Noel Grealish who told The Herald that he believed the OPW has learned its lesson and will in future ensure the Galway gates are kept open during severe weather conditions.
Images of the flooding on the East coast this week brought back unhappy memories for families who were forced to abandon their home during last year’s flooding in the greater Claregalway area as well as areas further south in the county.
Deputy Grealish said he checked on the gates in Galway on Saturday at the height of the torrential rain which hit the West and found them all to be wide open and allowing high water levels on the Corrib drain off quickly into the sea.
He also checked with residents down river from Claregalway and found most were happy enough that a repeat of the worst of the flooding could be prevented.
Senior Co Council official Frank Gilmore told The Herald that the council was happy that the flood relief works carried out on Claregalway Bridge were working well and playing a significant role is allowing run-off water flow down to the Corrib and on to the sea.
However, he warned that it had to be accepted that climatic events such as those experienced in Dublin and the East coast this week could not be predicted and even if they could, the outcome of such events could not.
He said that the Co Council was optimistic that the Claregalway works and the works currently being carried out at Crusheen Bridge upstream from Claregalway would greatly decrease the flood risk along the Clare River catchment area.
He added that there were no plans to carry out similar works along the Curragh Line as the Headford road was too near Lough Corrib and too low-lying to make any significant difference to the impact of high water levels.
The policy was now to ensure that the N17 can be kept open no matter how severe the weather conditions and to facilitate the run-off of excess water from lands bordering the Clare River.
Deputy Grealish insisted that it must now be made policy that at the first report of severe weather conditions the gate at Galway Weir be fully opened.
“It should now be acknowledged that keeping these gates closed in order to keep the Corrib water levels high enough to cover the Galway reservoir intake pipe, was the main culprit and the cause of last year’s disastrous flooding. We learned a costly lesson and one that should now be incorporated into policy by all the agencies involved,” he said.
He added that there would be no pointto all the effort put into the Claregalway project and the new bridge at Crusheen, currently under construction, if they just facilitated run-off to the Corrib and then the lake could not accommodate this influx, resulting in water backing up the Clare again.
“We have the solution before us. Last Saturday was the ideal test run. Now we know what needs to be done so there should be no more debate. Let us hope that flooding in this part of the county is now a thing of the past,” he concluded.