Drainage needs to be overhauled
Until recently the Bog Meadows was the lowest point in Belfast, lying at the foot of the Belfast Hills and the ever-growing west Belfast urban sprawl. I say until recently because it was decided to dig an underpass below the lowest level.
Although our recent rainfall has been called unprecedented, any resident of the St James's or Village areas will verify that flooding is not! Every year in my living memory of the Bog Meadows, unseasonal rainfall floods the entire area.
Friends of the Bog Meadows has attended many, many meetings to discuss the problem. Of course, it is not just riverbank-breaking flood water. We have been told in the past that when archaic storm drains overspill at the Falls Road, they spill over into the sewage system. This system is soon overwhelmed.
Overspill pipes from the sewers lead directly into the Ballymurphy Stream which, when its banks are breeched, spews the deadly waste into the nature reserve and surrounding streets.
A report on the problem was requested by Gerry Adams and Michelle Gildernew at the latest of these on-site meetings on March 4 this year. The meeting was also attended by representatives of the Rivers Agency and Water Service. We still await the outcome of those requests.
There is no doubt in the minds of the people who know this area that the whole drainage infrastructure of west Belfast needs to be overhauled as a matter of the greatest urgency.
My fear is that the investigation into the underpass flood will ignore the bigger picture in a futile attempt to see the road in insolation. If they try to do this, the Broadway underpass will continue to face unprecedented incidents every year!
Friends of the Bog Meadows is calling upon those charged with investigating the most recent floods to incorporate the adjacent infrastructure into recommendations. The upgrading of all sewage and drainage infrastructure should be demanded as a matter of urgency.
What an indictment it is of our society that a road closure has caused this investigation after years of local communities being ignored.
Friends of the Bog Meadows