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After The Flood

As any oceanographer worth his sea salt will tell you, living on the coastline will leave you vulnerable to flooding.

Lots and lots of flooding, in fact, when the weather decides to give you a big wet one. 

Such is the case for Greystones, for Bray, for Kilcoole, and all the rest of Wicklow’s exotic seaside towns.

Of course, there are ways to try and combat such flooding, but, Mother Nature has a habit of laughing in the face of any such man-made resistance. And so it has proven with the recent storms that have left much of Greystones’ Park & Ride and the new South Beach Playground [top pic: Danielle O’Sullivan] partially underwater.

It happened back in 2015, it happened in 1995, it happened again this past week, and many earlier times besides.

So, we got in touch with the local engineer Ruairí O’Hanlon – who had to break the diggers out after the 2015 flood – to find out just what the heck is going on with the drainage down there… 

There is nothing actually broken with the drainage, so there is nothing to be fixed and nothing to be cleaned out. The area of the playground, the council offices and the Park and Ride – all of which are currently under a certain amount of water – are at the lowest part of this part of the town, and all rain water flows towards this area, and the stream which flows under the Park and Ride.

The stream that is piped under the Park and Ride at the time of its construction is also piped under the railway embankment, and also under the beach, out to sea. It was piped out to sea as the outfall of the river on the seaward side of the railway embankment, which was constructed in Victorian times, is so low that the beach kept engulfing it and causing the frequent flooding of the land on the landward side of the railway embankment.
The issue is caused by a culmination of meteorological events. Certain storms, such as the ones last week, can deposit a lot of sand on the beach. This increased depth of sand makes it harder for the water from the piped stream to flow freely to the sea. Such storms usually bring increased rainfall also, which flows towards the stream. So, due to the restricted outflow, the increase in surface water runoff in the area, and the increase in the water levels in river, all lead to the drainage system backing up onto the land.

The last time this issue occurred was in November 2015. At that time, we spent a lot of time and money trying to resolve the situation. However, the only real solution is the sea moving the sand, as well as low tides placing less pressure at the outfall of the pipe, thereby allowing more water to flow out of it. That, and no more rain! The area used to flood much more frequently, so, I guess if all we have to deal with are small pools of water in our playground and car park for a week every three years it’s not the worst outcome in the world where flooding is concerned.

Jumping back to the 1990s, and you’d find swans [above] swimming on the flooded pitch and putt golf course that used to be where the Park And Ride is now – so it’s far from a new phenomenon, and not one that has been caused by any recent developments. There was also a time when the sea would crash up against the promenade wall along The South Beach. The sea doesn’t get anywhere near there anymore, so, it’s a good reference as to how much sand has been deposited onto this beach over the years.

Ultimately, and regrettably, just as nature brought the water, we just have to have to wait till nature – and a big digger – takes it away.

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