Council CEO appeals to Minister for ‘pipe’ funds

The CEO of Roscommon County Council, Eugene Cummins, has written to the Minister of State for the Office of Public Works, Patrick O’Donovan, appealing for funding to install an overall pipe to solve the flooding crisis at Lough Funshinagh.

In his letter, Mr. Cummins highlighted the plight faced by residents and farmers and vowed that the local authority would continue to “stand beside and with the community in their weeks of need”.

The letter, made available to the Roscommon People on Wednesday, states that the works would cost in the region of €1.5 million and would form “only part of the solution”.

Mr. Cummins cites research available from Geological Survey Ireland, which states that even if rains were to cease, any resemblance of normality “is well over a year away” without intervention.

Part of the letter reads: ‘It is imperative that further efforts are made in the context of a flood mitigation capital scheme…Existing funding schemes do not allow for the scale of planning and civil works required and the local authority could not carry this level of capital cost’.

Mr. Cummins adds that progressing the works is “fraught with difficulties and comes with more than a small probability of failure”. He advises the Minster that other stakeholders would need to become involved and look at solutions other than the transfer of responsibility to Roscommon County Council.

The letter also highlights that the process of putting “pipe in the ground” is possibly three years away and of little comfort to families “who are at their wit’s end”.

Mr. Cummins also states that an overflow pipe would only form part of the solution and that the various departments would need to be actively involved in facilitating a solution.

He added that two properties are currently facing relocation and that farm holdings in the area have been “significantly and negatively impacted”.

Mr. Cummins also highlighted Lough Funshinagh’s current Special Area of Conversation designation and that this would need be examined ahead of any pipe-laying project.

The letter contains a stark warning for the Minister: ‘Without an overflow pipe the situation in and around Lough Funshinagh is going to get worse, a lot worse.

‘I am of the firm view that the existing circumstances are not of a cyclical nature and that the consequences of climate chance will continue to result in an additional inflow into the catchment which is greater than the natural outflow capacity of the lough, resulting in effectively a permanent expansive lake’.

Mr. Cummins says that the irony of this is that it will lead to the destruction of the very habitat and ecology that the SAC and SPA conservation projects are intended to protect.

The letter concludes: ‘A permanent ‘pipe’ which would allow the lough to be maintained at sea level, would permit the identified habitat to once again flourish as it did when the natural outflows were able to cope with precipitation and less severe weather that is now almost an annual event’.