A bridge that is too small for the amount of water flowing under it in heavy rain, will not be touched because it is in very good condition.
Coolanowle bridge near Arles is a traditional double span stone bridge. It is however too small to cope with the extra flow during heavy rain, resulting in river water flowing along the road and flooding nearby houses.
Cllrs are concerned about a risk of contaminated drinking water.
“Houses near it are being flooded. One lady has a well in her front lawn. If this gets contaminated she won’t be able to use it for drinking water for a long time, maybe months,” said Cllr Padraig Fleming.
He asked Laois County Council to resolve the flooding issue, at the December meeting of the Portarlington Graiguecullen Municipal District.
“It is a fine bridge, there are big drains on both sides, if something can be done down there, it would be effective,” he said.
Cllr Ben Brennan supported his call.
“It’s not very nice to see water flowing down, and people can’t drink their water. This is happening very often everywhere with flash floods. We have the same in Killeshin. It backs up at the bridge. The bridge is perfect but what good is it, the water can’t get through,” he said.
As Coolanowle Bridge underwent substantial repairs to its underside in recent years, Laois County Council are not going to disturb it to install larger capacity culverts.
Instead engineers plan to make more use of surrounding drains and stone shores.
Regarding contamination of wells, Director of Services Kieran Kehoe told the councillors that there is a grant scheme for wells over seven years old.
“Residents may apply for a grant to reseal the cap of the well, so that even if they are flooded, the water won’t get into the well,” he said.