Estate residents dispute council finding that ponds are safe

Residents on an east Cork housing estate are disputing the findings of a county council report which claims two local water retention ponds are not a danger to children.

The ponds, both at Millbrook Court in Midleton, form part of four depressions installed when the estate was built about 15 years ago. They measure approximately five feet deep and run to 60 feet in circumference.

The ponds collect and gradually release surplus rain into the main drainage system. Local resident and father of three Pearse McCarthy warned the residual water levels are increasingly prone to rising sharply and dangerously.

His views were echoed by Margaret Byrne, secretary of the Millbrook Court Residents’ Association.

“People are genuinely concerned that if the water levels build up, as they did previously, there remains a risk to children,” the mother of five said.

“Even the most vigilant parent can be caught unawares. There is also the question as to whether the water in the ponds is hygienic and how clear the drains are.”

After the issue was raised recently by town councillor Tom Cashman, a report was undertaken by a senior official at Cork County Council.

It was claimed the ponds met a required sufficiency “to cater for storm water resultant from rainfall of 25mm per hour across three hours”.

The report notes the storage areas “appear to have been constructed to operate only when the Owenacurra is in significant flood” and that storm water discharge would occur when the river’s water level is too high to permit discharge by gravity.

On Aug 15 last, when rainfall at Cork Airport measured 28.5mm, the pond became exceptionally high. Since then, the report states, there had been no ponding, despite heavy prolonged rainfall.

Denoting the depressions as “safe”, the report recommends that signs be erected warning that they “may fill with water during periods of combined heavy rainfall and river flooding”.

National Roads Authority guidelines on similarly designed attenuation ponds advise fencing them off.

However, Mr McCarthy says this could cause climbing accidents or entice illegal dumping.

He says the residents would prefer some form of soak-away and a more gradual incline as a resolution.


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