Ireland - Services


River Engineering

A wide range of engineering expertise is required to implement projects affecting rivers and watercourses; challenges involving water quality, ecological protection, flood risk and catchment management require an integrated approach to delivery.

River engineering projects must consider design and construction which not only meets the challenges in relation to flood risk and other hydraulic objectives but which also ensures that impact to habitats, drinking water sources and downstream communities are managed. With teams of ecologists, hydrologists, civil and structural engineering professionals working side by side throughout the UK and Ireland, RPS is well placed to not only mitigate the various risks but to also realise co-benefits and synergies which can be achieved through such an approach.

More and more projects require the use of natural flood management and sustainability based approaches rather than in-channel works and RPS is at the forefront of the development of expertise in these areas.

Case Studies

Burren River Flood Alleviation Scheme



RPS was appointed to provide detailed design and construction support services for the £5m flood alleviation scheme along the River Burren, in Newcastle, Co. Down in Northern Ireland. The project was undertaken as a response to flooding during August 2008.

The works consisted of over 3km of steel sheet piles, reinforced concrete retaining walls, secant piled walls, earth embankments, fishery and environmental improvement measures, back drainage network and riparian reinstatement through residential and agricultural property. RPS provided a multidisciplinary team which included hydraulic modellers, civil and structural engineers, environmental scientists and a fisheries expert.

One aspect of the project, which involved heavy civil engineering works adjacent to the channel, was to ensure the river - an exceptional fish breeding river - was not significantly adversely affected. RPS was able to provide ongoing expert fisheries advice during the works and proposed measures within the channel including excavation of deep holding pools for spawning, development of fish nursery areas through excavation and placement of rocks and cobbles and the reduction of siltation through channel narrowing.

Mornington Flood Alleviation Scheme



RPS was appointed by the Office of Public Works to undertake detailed design of the flood alleviation scheme for Mornington, County Meath, Ireland. A number of engineering works within the river channel were appraised against a range of criteria including technical feasibility, social and environmental impacts and a full economic assessment. The economic assessment involved a flood damage assessment to the required Multi Coloured Handbook methodology and a costing of the potential options. The Mornington River system has a heavy tidal influence and is characterised by a series of gates and flap valves which lock out tidal water levels during the higher tidal cycle. RPS has provided design and specification for upgrades to this system to ensure its functionality into the future.

Services provided include detailed design which incorporated flood embankments, reinforced concrete walls, bridge amendments, back drainage works and a pumping station. The scheme was constructed by the Office of Public Works direct labour and RPS provided design support for the duration of the works. In addition RPS prepared tender documents, drawings and specifications for the pumping station and procured and supervised a contractor to undertake these works.

New Cumnock Flood Alleviation Scheme



RPS was appointed by East Ayrshire Council in Scotland to undertake the detailed design of a flood alleviation scheme for the town of New Cumnock which had been badly affected by flooding in 2014 and 2015.

The scheme mainly consists of hard defences constructed along the banks of the river through the town; over 2km of earthen embankment and reinforced concrete flood wall have been designed to provide flood protection to the town. Other in-channel works include canalised sections of watercourse to improve the hydraulic capacity, bank erosion protection and engineered spillways.

700m of ‘green’ bank protection has been designed along the Afton Water in consultation with local landowners. The design of these bank protection measures have been tailored to the individual requirements of the river reach in question. In places this includes reinforcement of the slope with geogrid and geotextile technologies, toe protection in the form of wooden stakes and brashwood, and placing of boulders.

At one location along one of the smaller watercourses, an engineered flood spill has been designed whereby existing bank levels are reduced and a spillway over a bank reinforced with geotextiles to allow flooding of a disused railway cutting.

Other services provided to East Ayrshire Council to support the river engineering for the scheme included CDM (health and safety duties), environmental and ecological screening and procurement of various ecological and habitat surveys. RPS obtained a number of Controlled Activities Regulations licences from SEPA to cover a range of activities including channel modification, sediment management and bank modification across the affected watercourses to allow for the proposed works.