Heavy rainfall causing problems
The council is being called on to do more to clean ditches and gullies in light of recent unseasonable downpours, which resulted in severe spot flooding in some areas across the county.
In July, heavy rains made the N87 connecting Swanlinbar in West Cavan all but impassable for a brief period, with locals tasked with warning oncoming traffic of the inherent danger ahead.
“There must be something wrong,” said Fine Gael's Peter McVitty, who tabled a motion to 'discuss flooding in the county generally'.
He said there were gullies in parts of Cavan “with grass growing out through them”, causing water to run off the roads with no where to go other than flood adjacent lands.
“Why is the flooding happening?” asked Cllr McVitty, who said it was “wrong” that members of the public had to leave their own homes in inclement weather conditions to warn passing motorists.
Fianna Fáil's Áine Smith, having seen photos of the flooding, agreed that something needed to be done. She recalled how her late father and former councillor Sean Smith had on multiple occasions called for the return of a funded drainage scheme for farmers.
“There could have been a very serious accident,” she said of the situation that developed on the N87.
Fine Gael's Winston Bennett reported “three foot” of water on the road at Bruckless, and called on the council to do more in terms of drainage and clearing ditches.
There was support too from TP O'Reilly (FG) who described the motion as “common sense”, and noted how he had raised the matter at Municipal District level previously.
Fianna Fáil's John Paul Feeley said that the levels of flash flooding experienced currently are more than the existing infrastructure can take. He highlighted how Dowra village became cut off following a deluge of rain recently. “It was turned into an island,” he said, adding that the level had risen and fallen in a “matter of hours”.
“We need to look at solutions, but we also need to look at what's practicable,” he remarked.
Fianna Fáil's Craig Lovett, Patricia Walsh, and Aiden Fitzpatrick added further weight to the argument being made, the latter suggesting that the Climate Adaption Grant should be utilised. It was also a matter that should be discussed at Strategic Policy level, and by the three MDs, with money set aside.
“Climate change has happened. The rain is falling far harder than ever before,” stated Cllr Fitzpatrick.
Paddy Connaughton, Director of Services, said he was aware of the west Cavan flooding incident, but said that heavy rains and the consequence of same was becoming a “national problem”.
He said the “existing systems are not designed” to deal with such immediate amounts of water passing through, and accepted that the position to date has been “reactive” rather than preventative.
Mr Connaughton acknowledged the need to dedicate funding towards the problems faced, as well as to cope with the damage caused to road surfaces also. However, with many of the funds that are available, he said there was a “cost benefit” element that needed satisfying first and foremost.
In that regard, the council had been successful in an application for a flood relief scheme for Cavan Town, for which Byrne-Looby was commissioned to develop a plan.