2013 flooding scheme is only starting now!

editorial image

A Ballymena Councillor says he’s “astounded” that a sewerage scheme which was scheduled to have been carried out in the frequently flood afflicted Toome Road/Queen Street area of the town last autumn is only now getting started.

The revelation emerged from a multi-agency meeting called in Ballymena last Thursday to discuss the flooding which once again saw homes in Harryville awash with water on June 8 as a result of thunderous downpours.

A spokesperson for NI Water confirmed afterwards to The Times that while urgent work at Toome Road/Queen Street to rectify some issues which were impacting on the capacity of the sewerage system involving desilting of the sewer network following flooding in 2012 had been carried out, work to rectify the structural defects was placed in the Capital Works programme.

“NI Water can assure customers this work was programmed to take place in the autumn of 2013, however, lands and procurement issues delayed the scheme. This work is now due to be carried out on 23rd June 2014,” the spokesperson said.

“It is important to note that this scheme will not increase the capacity of the sewer network, it will only safeguard the integrity of the sewer network. Therefore, the fact that this element of the work was not complete had minimal, if any, bearing on the flooding which occurred on the 8th June.

“NI Water apologised to the council for the unavoidable delay of this further work,” said the NI Water spokesperson.

Alderman Martin Clarke said: “As NI Water were working at that time (autumn 2013) in the area, myself and the Council and the residents assumed that the scheme was in progress.

“It has now emerged that the £200,000 scheme was not even started!...They should have informed the Council and the residents that the work was not even commenced.

“NI Water have admitted to me that when the scheme will be completed there is no guarantee it will prevent flooding on Toome Road/Queen Street. So what of the plight of the residents? There is not much hope at this moment in time.

“As a Council we are determined to carry on to find a solution to the problem that plagues this lower part of Toome Road/Queen Street.”

In the meantime, Cllr Clarke said that following his repeated appeals for a sandbag bank at the location, it has been confirmed to him that Roads Service/Transport NI is to liaise with Council to find a suitable site.