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And grit put down for snow may now lead to flooding

Dublin council is battling to clear drains of gritting sand before heavy rain moves in.

City Manager John Tierney said the material blocks the drainage system and increases the risk of flooding.

This was one of the main reasons the council was reluctant to use sand when gritting roads and footpaths during the big freeze, he said.

Mr Tierney also revealed the council is to make a claim for "exceptional funding" from Transport Minister Noel Dempsey's department.

The money will be needed to cover the cost of the local authority's gritting operation.

In a report, Mr Tierney said: "We have been inundated with queries as to why we have not being using sand given the problems with rock salt supplies.

"The use of sand is limited in an urban situation because of the consequences for the drainage system.

"When the thaw comes, the sand is washed into the drainage system and if not removed this causes blockages and potential flooding later."

Mr Tierney said the council is now using road sweepers "to try and clean these areas as quickly as possible".

"When stocks of rock salt diminished we secured white salt, which was diluted with sand and while not as effective as the rock salt it is a better alternative than using sand on its own and this is what we used on Friday and Saturday night," he added.

Mr Tierney said a major effort is also being made to clear "frozen snow and ice from gullies to prevent problems from arising if there is serious rainfall in the next couple of days".

Heavy rain is forecast for Dublin this weekend.

Mr Tierney explained why the Defence Forces were not called in as Dublin nearly ground to a halt.

He said Army resources were limited and the National Emergency Response Committee decided that it was best to retain them as much as possible to assist with health services and rescue services.

He added: "The Department of Transport will be advised of costs and a claim for exceptional funding is being made."