About Flood Risk Management

Flooding and Flood Risk


Flooding is a temporary covering by water of land not normally covered by water, and is a natural process that can happen at any time in a wide variety of locations.

Flooding can occur from a range of sources, individually or combined, including:

  • Coastal flooding (from the sea or estuaries)
  • Fluvial flooding (from rivers or streams)
  • Pluvial flooding (from intense rainfall events and overland flow)
  • Groundwater flooding (typically from turloughs in Ireland)
  • Other sources (such as from blocked drains or pipes)
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Flood Risk

Flood risk is the damage that may be expected to occur at a given location arising from flooding. It is a combination of the likelihood, or probability, of flood occurrence, the degree of flooding and the impacts or damage that the flooding may cause.

Flooding can cause damage, loss or harm in a number of ways, including:

  • Impacts on people and society (including physical injury, illness, stress and even loss of life)
  • Damage to property (such as homes and businesses)
  • Damage to and loss of critical infrastructure (such as water supply or roads)
  • Impacts on the environment (such as damage or pollution of habitats)
  • Damage to our cultural heritage (such as monuments and historic buildings)
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Flood Risk Management


The OPW has responsibility for leading and co-ordinating the implementation of the National Flood Policy which involves the development of a planned programme of feasible works, with a greater emphasis on non-structural flood risk management measures.

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The OPW carries out this role by coordinating the implementation of flood risk management policy and measures across the following strategic areas:

  • Prevention
  • Protection
  • Preparedness
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National CFRAM Programme

The OPW undertook the National Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management (CFRAM) Programme to give a clear and comprehensive picture of flood risk in areas of potentially significant flood risk and to set out how to manage the flood risk effectively and sustainably.

The Programme focussed on 300 communities at potentially significant flood risk, referred to as Areas for Further Assessment (AFAs). These were identified through a national screening exercise and include in the order of 80% of properties at risk in Ireland from rivers and seas, the primary sources of flooding in Ireland. 90 of these 300 areas were coastal areas.

Six CFRAM study areas were assigned (covering 29 River Basins) under the National CFRAM Programme. The OPW engaged with the Rivers Agency of Northern Ireland during the CFRAM Programme for those rivers that cross into or flow out of Northern Ireland.

The process to scope and develop the CFRAM Programme had three principal phases which led to the development of 29 Flood Risk Management Plans:

2012 Preliminary Flood Risk Assessment (PFRA)

The PFRA was a national screening exercise based on available information, taking into account all sources of flood risk, to scope the CFRAM Programme and identify areas of potentially significant flood risk. These areas are referred to as Areas for Further Assessment (AFAs) and cover 300 communities.

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2015 Preparation of Flood Maps

In consultation with Local Authorities the OPW, assisted by engineering consultants, embarked on extensive and detailed analysis to assess and map the risk of flooding in the AFAs. These maps were informed by public consultation, including a statutory consultation in November 2015.

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2017 Preparation of Flood Risk Management Plans

The 29 Flood Risk Management Plans set out the proposed measures, both structural and non-structural, to manage the flood risk in each of the 300 AFAs. Draft Plans were published in 2016 for public consultation which informed the final Plans which were approved by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform.

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The CFRAM Programme has been the principle vehicle to deliver on Ireland’s commitments under the EU Floods Directive (2007/60/EC). The EU ‘Floods’ Directive also requires that the Member States review the PFRA, the flood maps and the Plans on a six-yearly cycle.

Delivery of Flood Risk Measures

The National Development Plan 2018-2027 commits to almost €1 billion in funding for flood relief schemes, with annual Capital funding for flood relief for the OPW doubling to €100m by 2021.

Responsibility for implementing the full suite of measures, both structural and non-structural, contained in the 29 Flood Risk Management Plans rests with a range of State Bodies.

Structural Measures

Delivery of new relief measures proposed in the Plans will build on the significant investment in flood relief capital works that has already taken place since 1995 and will take place concurrently with delivery of flood relief schemes currently in design and construction. Schemes completed together with those already underway and those now proposed will deliver protection to approximately 8 out of 10 properties at risk in Ireland.

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Non-Structural Measures

Non-structural measures can potentially benefit all properties at risk. This is particularly important in the 5% of homes identified as at risk within the 300 AFAs where it was determined that structural defences were not feasible. Non-structural measures can also benefit at risk properties in the 20% of areas that were not assessed in the CFRAM Programme.

As a whole of Government approach is necessary to support flood risk management, sector-led policy initiatives are being co-ordinated through the Interdepartmental Flood Policy Coordination Group.

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