Sunday 17 December 2017

Flood fears over Owenmore river

Sorcha Crowley

Something must be done to clear fallen debris from the Owenmore River near Collooney before it floods again.

That's according to several concerned residents of the area who fear the river is getting clogged up and may burst its banks again.

"This has been going on for the past 18 months. The threat of flooding is there all the time," Michael Connolly told this newspaper.

The ground floor of his home where he lives with his wife and son was flooded in December 2015 and he no longer has flood cover in his home insurance.

"Trees are falling into the river causing blockages. It's not helping the flood situation. We're constantly checking the forecast worrying if there's going to be much rain," he said.

Michael says there are two sections of the river badly blocked with trees. "It creates a damn effect. The water can't get away quick enough," he said.

While the trees per se are not causing the flooding, Michael and his neighbours say clearing the debris out of the river "would certainly be a help."

"The County Council says it's not their issue. The OPW says its not their problem either. It's being passed around. Not all the land along the banks is owned by farmers, there's forestry too," said Michael.

His neighbour on the road near Union Wood Jarlath Taheny agrees the issue has been going on for too long, with no one body taking responsibility for the wider problem of flood prevention along the Owenmore river.

"We need to get some parties to take ownership and develop a plan of action," Jarlath told The Sligo Champion.

He was among several residents who met with Councillor Thomas Healy last week to show him potential flash points along the river (pictured above).

Cllr Healy tabled a motion at this month's County Council meeting calling for a meeting with the Minister for the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform Sean Canney to formulate a management plan for the river.

"The OPW identified Sligo, Ballisodare and Collooney as being high risk areas.

"Only a paltry sum of €26,000 is allocated annually for river management works.

"There is a glaring lack of management and responsibility in relation to flood management in Sligo. Last year I sought to have river management inserted into the County Development Plan but this was refused.

"The Council are not leading out on this issue, neither are the Office of Public Works and Minister Canney. That is why we need all stakeholders to come together and formulate a management structure. We have more than enough studies and strategies in place, what we need now are focused and robust implementation of measures. The three pillars of flood management are prevention, protection and preparedness," he said.

Sligo Champion

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