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TOBIN’s Rebecca Bradford joins task team for major investigation into groundwater-related flooding.

TOBIN Hydrogeologist Rebecca Bradford is part of a specialist Geological Survey and Trinity College team currently undertaking a major new investigation into groundwater-related flooding in Ireland.

Due to the unprecedented flood events of 2009 and 2015, flood risk management is seen as a major challenge facing communities across the country. Of particular relevance to the geosciences community is the phenomenon of ground-water flooding, which represents a significant flood hazard for many rural communities. Groundwater flooding is primarily associated with lowland karst groundwater flow systems in the west of Ireland, and can occur in a discontinuous manner across the landscape, often with no indication of flood risk prior to an extreme even. This makes effective land-use planning difficult. It is this accumulation of water over a period of weeks or months that determines flood severity and duration.

Groundwater Flooding Investigation

Recent flood events have reinforced the need for a greater understanding of groundwater flooding as a geohazard, and improve our ability to quantify the location and likelihood of flood occurrence. The GSI’s Groundwater Programme has been studying karst systems and features, including turloughs, as part of the Groundwater Protection Schemes due to the critical role they play as potential contaminant pathways for aquifers. Work includes desk studies, field mapping, aerial LIDAR surveys and targeted research resulting in the development of the National Karst Database.

This same approach and expertise will be enhanced, with additional resources and key collaborations with Trinity College, to develop a new monitoring and modelling programme specifically in relation to groundwater flooding. This new programme will provide the fundamental technical knowledge to enable the OPW and local authorities to develop appropriate flood mitigation measures, and allow for informed flood assessments to be made in future. It is proposed that a Steering Group will be put in place including principal stakeholders such as relevant state agencies and local authorities.

This new programme will also provide flooding and hydrogeological information that will enable the OPW and local authorities to make informed decisions with regards to groundwater flood mitigation measures. The collaboration between the GSI and Trinity College will also strengthen existing partnerships between the institutions and open new applied geoscience research opportunities in the fields of groundwater flooding, geohazards, groundwater-surface water interactions and remote sensing.

Information Source: Irish Groundwater Newsletter ISSN 2009-8324 (December 2016)

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