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Blockage that could have spelt disaster

By Linda McKee

Mattresses, plastic bags and even a settee were pulled out of the Blackstaff River yesterday close to the Westlink underpass flooded at the weekend.

Residents warned that if the gates of a culvert at Glenmachan Pass had become blocked by all the debris that was coming downstream at the same time as the flooding at the Broadway underpass, the damage to nearby properties could have been much worse.

Billy Dickson, chairman of Blackstaff Community Development Association, said culverting increases the risk of flooding and the group had said this at the Westlink upgrade inquiry.

“We want assurances that these gates are inspected at least once a week. We also believe the culverting of the Blackstaff river along the Monarch section of the Westlink contributed to the serious flooding of the Broadway roundabout,” said Mr Dickson.

“I routinely go round and see the amount of debris that accumulates. It doesn’t take too long to build up — plastic bottles, bags, all kinds of things — there is a mattress there and a settee was pulled out today. It’s unbelievable the amount of stuff that is there.”

Mr Dickson said that when a river is culverted — or channelled under a road through a pipe — the gates prevent people being sucked into the pipe, but debris becomes caught.

“Because the river is not open it doesn’t go away naturally. What would have happened if at the same time as the flooding at Broadway that gate at Glenmachan had been blocked?

“There’s a whole stretch of unculverted river along the Boucher Road and there is no flooding there. That takes all the extra water and then it goes into the culverted section and it increases in speed and force. All that water goes into the one locality and that is what is causing the problems.”

Belfast Telegraph


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