The report referred to by the Deputy contained six recommendations, numbers 11 to 16, in relation to the Office of Public Works. Substantial progress has already been made in relation to all of the recommendations as follows:
Recommendation No. 11: The OPW's funding for flood risk management should be substantially and strategically increased to reflect levels of flood risk now known to exist in several major river catchments. The OPW should commence and if possible accelerate the implementation of the Lee CFRAMS, commence the Shannon CFRAMS and those of other major river systems;
A total of €234.5m has been spent by the OPW in the years 2006-2010 on flood risk management activities, with another €54m approximately expected to be spent this year. During this period OPW has been able to undertake construction works on 13 major flood relief schemes. Another 17 schemes have been progressed through various stages of design and planning, on which it is hoped to undertake construction works in the period up to 2014, subject to the availability of finances. These schemes will mitigate substantially the known risk of flooding at the locations in question.
OPW has commenced a Catchment-based Flood Risk Assessment and Management (CFRAM) Study Programme which will provide the foundation for future flood risk management in line with national flood policy and the requirements of the EU Flood Directive. Consultants have already been commissioned to undertake studies for four of the River Basin Districts, including the Shannon system, and the studies for the remaining two RBDs will be commissioned before the end of the year. The pilot CFRAM study for the Lee catchment has been substantially completed. The CFRAM studies will produce a plan of prioritised structural and non-structural measures to address flood risk in each catchment. The plans will be completed by the 2015 deadline set out in the Floods Directive. These Plans will inform the assessment of the funding needed to address effectively flood risk in a proactive and comprehensive way over coming years.
Recommendation No. 12: The OPW should approve and fund all urgent minor flood relief measures identified by local authorities pending the completion of detailed flood risk assessment and management strategies except where there may be legal or other unavoidable reasons for not doing so;
Total funding of €22.5m has so far been approved by the OPW to local authorities under the Minor Flood and Coastal Protection Works Scheme, which commenced in 2009, to enable them to undertake localised flood relief work and studies.
OPW is continuing to receive applications for funding from local authorities under this scheme and these are being assessed under the relevant economic and environmental criteria having regard to the overall funding available.
Recommendation No. 13: The OPW should determine and prepare a national strategy for river drainage and maintenance measures to manage flood risk, and allocate sufficient resources to, and begin, its implementation in conjunction with the local authorities;
As mentioned above, OPW's CFRAM Programme will produce a prioritised plan of measures to address flood risk in each catchment in the country. Each study will examine a range of possible measures, including drainage of channels where appropriate. The recommendations of the studies will provide the basis for developing a comprehensive flood risk management strategy and identifying the resources required to implement it, in partnership with local authorities and other relevant stakeholders.
Recommendation No. 14: The OPW should actively engage with and support local authorities in the preparation of detailed flood risk assessment under the major emergency planning framework;
OPW's CFRAM Programme, which will provide the blueprint for dealing with fluvial and coastal flooding countrywide, is being implemented in close co-operation with local authorities. OPW already participates and will continue to participate actively in national emergency planning with other relevant state bodies.
Recommendation No. 15: Appropriate flood early warning systems should be put in place by the OPW on all major river systems or parts thereof where a substantial ongoing flood risk in known to exist. Providing some degree of early warning system in such places should not need to await the detailed studies planned under the CFRAMS process;
OPW commissioned consultants to carry out a detailed review of options for Flood Forecasting and Flood Warning in Ireland. The consultants' report has been received and OPW will shortly be consulting with the stakeholders in relation to its recommendations.
Recommendation No. 16: The OPW should update its flood mapping work to reflect localised risks and flooding events that took place in November 2009, and ensure such information is disseminated to and understood by relevant agencies;
All confirmed data supplied/sourced by OPW has been made available via the flooding mapping website www.floodmaps.ie. This website is available to all local authorities. OPW is continuing to liaise with stakeholders, including local authorities in respect of any data that they make available to us.