Flood mapping technology will 'help predict future risks'
Protecting our local communities from the risk and impact of flooding is at the heart of what we do at the Rivers Agency. These new flood maps give us a more comprehensive picture on areas that are likely to flood, as well as the level of water and speed of flow at individual locations.
They include flooding from rivers, the sea and surface water flooding.
Their development means that, for the first time, business and householders in 69 flood risk areas across Northern Ireland, will have a detailed understanding of the risks they may face during flood events which may occur often, rarely and also during extreme weather conditions.
With superior modelling and mapping technology we have been able to offer government, planners, industry professionals, businesses and homeowners the most detailed and up-to-date information on flooding and its impact on essential infrastructure – right down to street level.
Another first for Northern Ireland is that we will now use these flood maps to strengthen our work with communities in developing dedicated plans to manage the risks they may face.
In the past, we have relied heavily on building flood defences but this new approach will help us predict future flood risk, be more prepared and identify the most appropriate action to minimise flooding.
We hope it will also encourage both communities and individuals to recognise we all need to play a part in taking responsibility for protecting our families, homes and businesses. The maps will also inform and shape the work and support of emergency responders, including government, local councils, the police and the fire and rescue service.
Our maps have already proved invaluable for emergency planning when, during the coastal tidal surge at the start of the year, we used them to help inform the police as they decided whether or not to evacuate specific areas of Belfast, including the city centre and Sydenham.
With responsibility for planning moving to the new 11 councils next year, these detailed maps will allow local decision-makers to make appropriate planning decisions.
- David Porter is Rivers Agency director of development