THERE will be further talks over the coming weeks between Limerick City and County Council and Waterways Ireland to ensure that Saturday night’s flooding incident in Corbally “cannot happen again”.
Speaking to the Limerick Leader after their first meeting on Tuesday, senior engineer Vincent Murray said that the matter was not closed and that there will be further discussions.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Council and Waterways Ireland were embroiled in a war of words, after the Council expressed its “disappointment” with comments made by Waterways Ireland in relation to the flooding that damaged a number of houses.
Limerick’s local authority issued a statement in response to Waterways Ireland noting that the body was “the authority solely responsible for the management and maintenance of the Park Canal” which flooded on Saturday after “technical difficulties” with the Park Locke gates.
There were subsequently calls for an inquiry after several houses and a school in the Corbally area were flooded as a result of a surge of water in the Shannon and Mulkear rivers, causing the canal to burst its banks.
Waterways Ireland issued a statement on Monday defending its position, explaining that it had released water from the Park Canal on Thursday and Friday and had agreed with Limerick City and County Council that over the weekend the Council would “monitor levels in the Park Canal and release water as appropriate”.
“Keys to the gates and contact details of Waterways Ireland personnel were provided to the Council,” it outlined.
On Saturday evening, the canal was “full and over-topping”, after the release of water.
“The Council responded to reports on Saturday evening that the canal was full and over-topping. Attempts were made by the Council Engineer on site to open the gates with the keys that were left with the Authority,” the authority stated.
“The gates failed to respond and contact was immediately made with Waterways Ireland. As Waterways Ireland were not immediately available attempts were made by Council Engineers and the Fire Service to open the canal gates.
“The Council deployed an excavator to prise the canal gates open, an action that subsequently resulted in a lowering of water levels and the gradual alleviation of flooding in the area,” it added.
A Waterways Ireland spokesperson told the Leader after Tuesday’s meeting that they were aware of the council’s comments, and that their statement “is at it stands”. The spokesperson said that they have “nothing to add” on the matter, at the moment.
Fianna Fáil TD Willie O’Dea said that after the flooding in Richmond Park, any place can be vulnerable to flooding.
“It shows that areas that we never anticipated would have any problems have now encountered problems,” he said.
He added that there has been a “lack in communication” by the authorities over the unexpected Corbally flooding.
“There is a huge communication deficit, here. Maybe the council officials should be sitting down, ascertaining what happened exactly, and explaining it in clear, transparent language, so that we will all be able to see who is responsible for this.”
Sinn Féin Cllr Maurice Quinlivan has called on Waterways Ireland “to admit culpability” over the flooding that left 14 homes “devastated” in Corbally.
“This was not an ‘act of god’ or ‘freak of nature’; rather, it was something which could have been easily avoided.”
AAA Cllr Cian Prendiville stated that the government “must step up to the plate”, and provide the resources for the repairs to those whose homes have been damaged.
There were more than 10,000 sandbags distributed to businesses and homes, and officials from the Council and the Department of Social Protection to provide supports to those affected.