A hydrological study will be carried out into the persistent flooding at Lough Reane, at Tully, Fenagh which has left 18 families stranded by rising water levels and forced some to resort to using boats to access their homes.
Minister of State at the Office of Public Works, Brian Hayes, confirmed during his visit to the Lough on Monday, that, once the Council has made a submission for funding for the study, his Department would ensure a “quick turn around” on the application. He said that he expected the Council to be able to carry out the work in the first three months of 2013.
The Minister, who made a special visit to Fenagh at the request of Sligo/North Leitrim TD, Tony McLoughlin, following concerns raised by Cllr Gordon Hughes, saw first hand the problems caused by the flooding. He visited a road running along the shore of the lake which was used as an access for 18 families resident in the area. Here he spoke with residents who recounted how persistent flooding had left them stranded.
One man detailed how he, his wife and young children had been cut off from the local community by flooding last winter.
“We had to use a boat to get the kids to school. Leitrim County Council are doing their best but they need the proper resources to fix this,” he said.
Over the last few years Leitrim County Council has raised the level of the roadway by 5 feet in a bid to solve the issue but flooding remains a problem and a number of householders are regularly stranded by rising water levels. Leitrim County Council Senior Engineers, Shay O’Connor and Terry McGovern outlined the ongoing difficulties with drainage along the road in particular.
Minister Hayes said that the situation facing residents in Tully was “not typical” and he added that the OPW was keen to work with the Local Authority to alleviate the problem.
“The first thing that needs to be done is a study and when this is completed we’ll have a better picture of what needs to be done to secure a long term solution. He said that the Government had effectively ‘ring-fenced’ €45m in funding for Minor Flooding Relief Works and he encouraged Leitrim County Council to apply for funding under this scheme.
“This is an outrageous situation where families are being cut off and are obliged to use boats to access their homes. That can’t continue,” he said.
Cllr Gordon Hughes welcomed the visit by the Minister and said that he was heartened by the commitment given to the water study. He praised the Council for their work and said he hoped the Local Authority would soon be in a position to apply for funding for a long term solution to the flooding issue.
“This is a matter which has been affecting at least 18 families living in this area for a long time and we need to find a properly funded long term solution for them,” he said.
Cllr Caillian Ellis said that while the visit was a positive step in addressing the issue, he was disappointed that the Minister had not been prepared to discuss the issue of compensation for farmers whose lands are flooded in the area. Cllr Ellis said those farmers whose lands were consistently impacted by the water levels were now facing the prospect of having this land excluded from their area aid payments.
“This needs to be addressed as well as the flooding,” he said.