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Tulla farmer Michael O’Callaghan is concerned that work on a local housing development has led to a collapsed drain and severe flooding of his lands. Photograph by Eugene McCafferty

Fears that housing construction work causing flooding

FLOODING concerns have been raised in Tulla by several residents close to the site of a new social housing development.

Michael O’Callaghan is among a number of people who contacted The Champion on the issue.

He farms 38 acres of land beside the Council’s site and said that since the end of last year, up to 20 acres have been subject to unprecedented flooding. That is despite the fact that rainfall levels have been low.

He said that local knowledge suggests that culverts which normally drain the lands close the to the site have been blocked, possibly during excavation works on the Council’s site.

“Water from the farm flows underground, beneath the social housing site,” he said.

“It’s the view locally, based on our knowledge of the area, that culverts have been blocked. The natural flow of water from the land is not continuing in the way that it used to.”

Mr O’Callaghan said the flooding situation worsened towards the end of last year.

“We noticed a change from around October of 2021,” he outlined.

“The issue is severely affecting the farmland and the property of around six residents. A storm drain would also have emptied through those same culverts and there is a concern that water is now backing up onto residents’ properties.”

While meetings took place late last year with Council officials on the issue, Mr O’Callaghan feels a workable solution still hasn’t been developed.

“The Council took our concerns on board,” he said. “They are working on something, but we’re still waiting and in the meantime, the situation is not improving.

“We haven’t had a wet winter. There’s been nothing like the normal volume of rain and you’d have to wonder what sort of state the land would be in, if we had had that.

“Anyone downstream who is engaged in construction has a duty of care not to flood those who are upstream.”

Cathaoirleach of the Killaloe Municipal District, Joe Cooney met those affected and said he is hopeful of a solution.

“When we approved the Part Eight planning application for this development, we got an assurance that any flooding would be addressed,” he said.

“We have met Council engineers and had good consultation with everyone involved. I’m hopeful that what the Council is proposing in terms of percolation on the site will improve things.”

Councillor Pat Hayes was also among those to liaise with local people. He gave an assurance the Council is “doing all in its power to resolve the issue”.

“This is an unsatisfactory situation and the Council cannot be bad neighbours,” he said.

“I’m not an engineer and can’t prove the cause of the flooding, but there does seem to be an issue. We haven’t had any really prolonged period of wet weather and there’s a worry going forward that if we did, there could be a risk to houses, property and land.”

Councillor Hayes, who voted against the housing development, due to his concerns about the flooding risk, said progress is being made.

“The Council is still plugging away to find a solution,” he said. “It’s quite complex because releasing water could pose a risk in other areas. It’s about getting the balance right.

“I’m fully supportive of the people who have raised this issue. I originally had a concern about this and the Council needs to be a good neighbour and to resolve this issue.”

Mr O’Callaghan said that despite the Council’s assurances, locals remain concerned.

“I had no objection to the development,” he said. “We all welcome housing, construction and the creation of jobs. These after-effects shouldn’t be happening. If we get very bad weather, there is a serious concern about the impact.”

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