The Office of Public Works is the lead agency for flood risk management in Ireland. In carrying out its role, the OPW undertakes a number of work programmes where its responsibilities are delivered directly through its own resources and in some instances in conjunction with other agencies such as local authorities. The key elements of these programmes are: major capital flood defence schemes; minor coastal and non-coastal schemes; strategic flood risk management studies; and arterial drainage maintenance.
In the last five years the OPW has expended approximately €243 million in flood risk management activities in the State. This has enabled the OPW to progress major flood relief schemes in towns such as Clonmel, County Tipperary, Mallow, County Cork, Ennis, County Clare, Fermoy, County Cork and Waterford city. Major areas of Dublin city have also been given standard flood protection through schemes carried out on the rivers Tolka and Dodder in this period. A number of major schemes in other areas have also been advanced through the feasibility process which include such towns as Bray, County Wicklow, Templemore, County Tipperary, Enniscorthy, County Wexford and Arklow, County Wicklow.
In 2009, I initiated a minor flood and coastal protection works programme through which the OPW is providing funding for minor localised flood relief works or studies to be undertaken by local authorities. This programme has continued in 2010 with local authorities being asked to submit applications for cost beneficial projects up to a maximum of €500 million each.
In recent years the OPW has been developing and implementing a strategic flood risk management programme. In this regard the OPW is rolling out a series of flood risk management plans which will allow an integrated approach in the identification and management of significant flood risk. These studies will underpin the development of the OPW's investment and expenditure programme in the medium term.
The OPW also undertakes ongoing maintenance of completed arterial drainage schemes and urban flood relief schemes. Approximately 11,300 km of channels and 675 km of flood defence embankments are maintained under this programme. The Government has allocated approximately €68.3 million towards flood risk management in 2010, including €50 million for capital flood risk activities and approximately €18.3 million for ongoing drainage maintenance and hydrometric activities.
Under the capital allocation in 2010, the OPW will complete the first phases of major flood relief schemes in Mallow, Ennis, Waterford, Clonmel and Fermoy as well as commencing the second phases in each of these areas. Construction works will continue in Mornington, County Meath and on the River Dodder in Dublin. The OPW has also committed to undertaking a full feasibility study of the flooding problem in Bandon, County Cork, and will also progress works identified in the River Lee CFRAM plan. The allocation will also allow work to continue in rolling out the nationwide catchment flood risk plans. An initial allocation of €6 million has also been made for the minor works scheme which will be reviewed when all applications for assistance have been received.
In recognition of the flooding situation countrywide, the OPW has profiled expenditure of approximately €300 million until 2014 with expenditure in excess of €200 million being profiled on capital works alone in this period. I am confident this expenditure under the current work programmes being undertaken by the Office of Public Works will reduce the national level of flood risk to people, businesses, infrastructure and the environment.