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Charlestown bypass blamed for flood of misery

Flooding on the Charlestown to Ballaghaderreen road is causing considerable problems for residents.
Flooding on the Charlestown to Ballaghaderreen road is causing considerable problems for residents.

Charlestown bypass blamed for flood of misery

Trevor Quinn

THE old N5 road may now be bypassed at Charlestown, but flooding on the Charlestown to Ballaghaderreen road is causing considerable problems for residents in the village of Carracastle.
According to one Carracastle resident, father-of-two Pat Keavney, his water supply has been beset by flooding and ‘brown water’ since the completion of the N5 Charlestown bypass two years ago. After protracted denials of wrongdoing by the Board of Works and Mayo County Council, he told The Mayo News that he would “like someone to take responsibility for the problem.”
The flooding has meant that Mr Keavney, his wife and two children (aged 11 and 13) regularly have no drinkable water for four and five week periods, and are forced to fill heavy drums of water at a neighbour’s home in order to be able to complete basic household tasks, such as washing and cleaning.
Mr Keavney explained that a stream lying a few hundred feet behind the family home regularly overflows during periods of heavy rainfall, and when it does it comes ‘straight into’ the back garden. “When it comes into the back garden it goes into our well, and when it does we can’t drink the water because it’s brown. The last big rain was a month ago, and the water almost came to the back door.”
“It occurs mainly during the winter … The water could remain brown for at least two or three weeks before it clears … Sometimes we try washing clothes but as you can imagine, it’s not very good.”

‘Not fair’
Local Sinn Féin councillor Gerry Murray highlighted Mr Keavney’s plight at last week’s Swinford Local Area Electoral Meeting. He said the situation is very regrettable and ‘not fair’. He added: “Since the completion of the bypass, one situation which keeps recurring is the river flooding. It comes into his back garden and then contaminates his water. Because his land wasn’t subject to the CPO, he has no grounds.”
Cllr Murray said talks between the NRA and Mayo County Council are continuing, but that as of yet there is no resolution. With another wet and cold winter firmly on the horizon, he said, it is vital that something is done as soon as possible for Mr Keavney and his family.
Fine Gael councillor Joe Mellett said that he believes drainage irregularities are to blame for the unprecedented flooding. “That issue is going on a good while now. Let’s say it appears to have only happened since the completion of the bypass. All the drainage was upgraded then but it appears some of the pipes which were put in are not sufficient enough to take the water away.”
According to Cllr Mellet, other residents are affected too. “Water is running down the Kilmovee road and flooding the old N5 and most of the adjoining properties. It’s a safety concern for a number of residents. The NRA and Mayo County Council need to be more proactive in dealing with it. I have contacted the Road Design Office to do something about it but to date nothing has been done.”

Safety concern
Cllr Mellett continued and said that the flooding is also a safety concern for motorists and pedestrians. He added that this was an issue which the Council should be dealing with. “The old N5 is extremely busy. Many people in the locality aren’t using the bypass and they use the old road as a short cut. That eventuality was never taken into account. The flooding has created a serious traffic issue. It’s an accident waiting to happen.”