CBA chief executive Lawrence Owens made the call yesterday as the group hosted a series of flood prevention workshops for city centre business owners.
“Businesses in Cork are trading at a unique disadvantage because of where we are — in a flood-risk zone,” he said.
“We are not expecting the major flood defences to be in place before 2016. That means we have another two-and-a-half years of flood risk.
“There should be a recognition of that from the city council in the form of some element of rates reduction or write-down for businesses who install flood protection measures.”
The CBA said it plans to raise the issue with the incoming chief executive of Cork City Council, Ann Doherty, over the coming weeks.
Business owners attended the flood prevention workshops in City Hall yesterday ahead of the publication by the OPW on July 29, of its preferred engineering options for the €50m flood defence scheme for the city.
Raised quay walls, particularly in the Morrisson’s Island area, and de-mountable flood barriers in other areas are expected to be among the proposed measures in what will be one of the largest flood defence schemes ever undertaken in Ireland.
The plans will go on display in City Hall for a week before a statutory exhibition is held in November.
However, with detailed design and tenders not expected to be signed until late next year, construction is not expected to start until 2016.
Restaurateur Claire Nash, whose Nash 19 premises on Prince’s St was among dozens swamped in the February flood, urged people to engage with the flood defence plans consultative process.
Senior council engineer Eamonn Walsh said a tide level of 2.4-metres is enough to flood George’s Quay and Morrisson’s Island and a level of 2.6-metres will flood the South Mall.
And because the city centre is shaped like a saucer, he said a tide of 2.7-metre or over will breach the ‘lip of the saucer’ and flood the side streets leading off Oliver Plunkett Street, and onto the Grand Parade.
Flooding at this level also swamps the city’s storm drains which cannot discharge back in to the swollen river, he said.
The February 4 flood — the second in just three days — occurred after a 2.9-metre tide but was complicated by a storm surge which extended the flood’s duration, he said.
Preventing the water from spilling over the quay walls in the first place is essential, Mr Walsh said.
“I would be surprised if I didn’t see proposals from the OPW to raise the quay walls,” he said.
But he said businesses can mitigate the damage from flooded gullies by installing non-return valves.
The city has been flooded six times this year — including the two floods in the first four days of February alone.