Clare County Council has been requested by the Office of Public Works (OPW) to provide additional information, including photographic evidence of flooding in Springfield. The request was made in respect of the OPW’s ongoing review of the council’s request for funding approval.
This development emerged in a week when the council was notified by the OPW of its decision to allocate €49,500 to undertake remediation works on a 250m section of river embankment (Blackwater River). The council expects remediation works to commence during November. Weather permitting, it is hoped the works will be completed by the end of the year.
The council has completed a procurement process and has identified a consultant who would carry out a focused feasibility study with a view to identifying a sustainable solution to the historic flooding issues at Springfield, Clonlara.
As of June last, the council has been seeking funding approval from the OPW to appoint a consultant. It envisages that any flood prevention works approved ancillary to such an appointment would be carried out under the OPW’s existing Minor Works Scheme.
A council spokesman said the council is not the lead authority for flood and river management but, as the local authority for County Clare, it has inputted into the CFRAMS process in relation to Affected Flooding Areas AFAs considered, including Springfield.
While Springfield resident, Geraldine Quinlivan welcomed the funding for Mount Catherine, she confirmed that it would not solve the flooding problem for householders in her locality, who were living in fear of a repeat of the most recent devastating flooding.
“It is time that one of the solutions from the CFRAMS report was prioritised and implemented. We want peace of mind this winter and don’t want to be worrying about whether our houses will flood again. It is now a time for action,” she said.
Minister of State, Deputy Pat Breen said the Minister with Special Responsibility for the OPW, Sean Canney, has confirmed that €49,500 will be allocated to the council to remove trees and reconstruct the embankment at Mount Catherine.
“It became very clear that the river embankment required strengthening and maintenance works, in order to prevent further flooding when the Blackwater River, Ardnacrusha, burst its banks, causing significant flood damage to local homes last winter. Clare County Council has until July 31, 2017, to carry out this flood prevention work.
“Following a frank and open discussion, the OPW agreed to treat the flooding issues in Springfield as urgent, and assured me that it is currently working out a solution with Jacobs Engineering Group Inc, with a decision on the work to be presented at Christmas. The OPW is also to work closely with the council on this project and, subject to planning permission, work should begin as soon as possible,” said Minister Breen.
Meanwhile, Deputy Jan O’Sullivan has supported Clare County Council’s criticism of the recent CFRAM report, which did not take into account flooding last December and January on the outskirts of Clonlara.
“I know that area well and the families who are affected. The Springfield area was particularly badly hit last year and in previous years. Just because the flooding in Springfield was outside the CFRAM timeframe doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. The OPW should use whatever evidence it has, including last year’s flooding, to assess the risk for mitigation measures.
“I would hope the OPW would have a look at this situation again. I know, at the other side of the river, Castleconnell was originally omitted from flood relief works but now the OPW is looking at this again,” she said.
Asked about the anxiety the lack of flood protection is causing residents in Springfield, the Clonlara-born deputy acknowledged it is a “horrible way to live, wondering if your house is going to be flooded”.
She said, a few years ago, a wall of earth was built in Shannon Banks, which proved effective and she felt that similar measures should be implemented in Springfield.
“My own son lives in Atlunkard Street in Limerick and they were flooded in 2014. To go into a house where water is up to your knees and the smell lasts for ages, the effect is horrible. Some people in Springfield had to get a boat to get into their house and had to endure being out of their homes for a long time,” she said.
Calling on the OPW to include the most recent flooding in their assessment, she confirmed she would also support any representations Clare County Council would make in this issue.
Her views were echoed by Limerick Deputy Willie O’Dea, who stated it was beyond comprehension that Springfield was not included in the most recent CFRAM report.
“If people involved in drafting the CFRAM report only watched the news on a few occasions, they would have seen that Springfield was very much to the fore in flood-hit areas. It would be different if this report was being done in anticipation of future flooding, but when the flooding has already happened on such a major scale and caused so much human misery and destruction, it is almost beyond belief.”