CLARE County Council are on target to lodge an application for a long-awaited flood embankment on the outskirts of Clonlara in mid to late April, according to a local councillor.
Councillor Michael Begley has told the Clare Champion the council are on track to lodge a Part Eight application for the Springfield Flood Embankment, which is estimated to cost in excess of €1.2 million.
This follows a video conference meeting between council officials and the Office of Public Works last week following a submission of the final report by consultants employed by the local authority to assess issues concerning the flood embankment.
While flood waters have disappeared, and residents who were evacuated have returned to their homes, sandbags still remain outside some dwellings.
Councillor Begley said some residents have to undertake a major clean up operation due to overflows in septic tanks and other remedial works.
One of the main access roads going through Springfield was damaged by flood water but Councillor Begley acknowledged the council has done a reasonably good job carrying out temporary repairs.
The Independent Councillor stressed that government funding would have to be found to carry out proper permanent reinstatement of roads that were damaged by flooding.
Asked about fears that some government expenditure on capital projects could be axed or postponed amid estimates that Covid-19 could cost in the region of €20 billion, the Independent
Councillor acknowledged this global pandemic has caused a major financial upheaval.
However, he hopes that the cost of Covid-19 can be financed separately from mainstream government spending to allow the country to function in some kind of normal fashion.
The former publican has expressed concern that the new flood embankment and associated works may not be full completed until the summer of 2021 unless the current planning and procurement process is fast-tracked.
“The worry is the time span between major flooding events is getting shorter. If you look back at the flooding in 1995, 2002 and 2009 this was a seven-year time span. Then 2015 brought it down to six and this continued into 2016 and then you had flooding in 2020, which brings it down to just four years.
“Even if the Part Eight is lodged at the end of the month and everything falls into place, it could be April 2021 before work on the new flood embankment will commence,” he explained.
“One of the planning submissions which was submitted the last time the council lodged the Part Eight resulted in it being withdrawn in order to give a chance for all the technical information to be presented in a more concise way.
“Hopefullly, the Part Eight will go through without any hiccups. When procurement, preparing contract documents and going through the tender process is taken into account, you would be very optimistic to say this would happen before the end of 2020.
“The physical contract will probably take between four to six months to complete as it is not a huge construction job,” he said.
Urging the council to submit the Part Eight application as quickly as possible, he hopes the benefits of the project will be taken into account by any interested parties and it is processed as quickly as possible through the planning process.
There are two main elements to the permanent flood protection works. In addition to stopping the flood waters coming in, the scheme will also have to facilitate pumping out stormwater from inside the embankment.
There are a number of small waterways, drains and small rivers that are heading to the River Shannon that will have to be dealt with.
The new scheme will provide for additional storage of storm water and once any excess it created, this will have to pumped out.
This process is already operational in Westbury when high tides cause storm water drainage to close, two pumping stations pump out the excess water over the top.