Tuesday, 17 February 2015
Drainage Schemes Status
I thank the Minister for coming to the House to discuss this important issue. On 19 November 2009, an appalling event occurred in Bandon town when the River Bandon burst its banks. The resulting flooding was of a type that is seen approximately once in 100 years, causing extensive damage to homes and premises. Many property owners in the town are still unable to obtain insurance against flooding.
Residents and business owners are dumbfounded that following a costly obligatory consultation process on the development of a new drainage and sewage scheme for the town, Irish Water has apparently torn up the consultant's recommendation and instead proposes to pursue a solution based on the existing, obsolete infrastructure. It seems the company is trying to get away with a rather cheap solution in recommending that a one-pipe system will be adequate. In rejecting this proposal, experts, engineers and residents note the irony that while home owners and farmers are obliged to upgrade their septic tanks, Irish Water sees fit to put forward such an anti-environmental solution in the current regulatory climate.
Will the Minister insist that this second-rate solution is not acceptable in Bandon or anywhere else in Ireland? Irish Water should not be allowed to get away with it. If it is a question of funding alone, where is the money that was ring-fenced for this purpose, with cast iron promises from various Ministers in both the current Government and its predecessor? I was in Bandon in the aftermath of that dire flooding and saw premises under 5 ft. and 6 ft. of water. The townspeople have been extremely patient but I am asking the Minister to give a guarantee today that they will get the best scheme possible and construction will begin sooner rather than later. It is past time this issue was addressed. It is almost six years since that appalling flood and nobody can guarantee that a similar event will not take place along the Bandon river basin. If it should do so before the drainage infrastructure is in place, it will be a disaster. The related flood relief scheme, which is being dealt with by the Office of Public Works, must also proceed as quickly as possible. I hope the Minister will give me good news to take back to west Cork.