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Leading environmental officials in Clare County Council have warned that the dredging of all rivers in the county will not necessarily alleviate potential flooding problems.

An increase in frequency of extreme precipitation events for Co Clare have been flagged in the Climate Change Adaptation Strategy which will result in an increased risk of flooding from rivers and rainfall.

Cyril Feeney, a senior engineer in the physical development section of the local authority stated, “It is important to acknowledge that climate change is having and will continue to have to have a significant effect in Co Clare”.

His comments came in response to a motion by Cllr Gabriel Keating (FG) for the Council to engage with relevant authorities to dredge rivers in the county “to prevent ongoing flooding of our lands in the interest of good environmental and farming practice”.

This was not an approach recommended by the engineer. “Dredging is not always the solution for flooding,” Feeney highlighted. He said it can have unintended consequences such as increasing the flow and speed of rivers causing damage to properties, infrastructure and the economy. “It can also be detrimental to the river morphology, habits and ecosystems”.

Greater understanding of the causes of flooding outside of climate change was required, Cyril maintained. Examples include the construction of manmade interventions such as the construction of pinch points.

Support for Cllr Keating’s motion was forthcoming from Cllr Michael Begley (IND), Cllr John Crowe (FG), Cllr Pat Hayes (FF) and Cllr Johnny Flynn (FG). “When rainfall comes off the land, the rivers are not wide enough to take the water,” Cllr Gerry Flynn (IND) remarked in agreement with the proposal.

Adding his backing to the proposal, Cllr PJ Kelly (FF) observed, “The drainage of rivers hasn’t been on the agenda here for a number of years unfortunately”. He said that the river in Kildysart is flooding “because of a failure to put an embankment there, two houses regularly flood in the meantime, I would hope we would be more flexible and address issues like this”.

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