The local authority is to put more emphasis on road drainage as increased rainfall resulting from climate change has caused damage to some of the 12,000km of roads around the county.
The emphasis was previously primarily on resurfacing damaged roads, but such works will from now on be undertaken in conjunction with drainage projects.
This will cost the local authority more money in the short term, but it is hoped that in the long term it will save it a significant sum.
One of the problems encountered by council engineers is water run-off from farmland. Some farmers have carried out significant drainage works on their property and, as a result, water is diverted onto public roads.
The “ponding” effect can seriously undermine roads and also has safety implications for road users.
Councillors have adopted a report compiled by their road and transportation special purposes committee (SPC) which has set out a number of recommendations aimed at tackling repeatedly flooded roads.
SPC chairman, Cllr Declan Hurley, said the local authority was expending several million euro every year on repairing roads and “then seeing the work undone” because of poor roadside drainage. He said the council would shortly start a public awareness campaign aimed at landowners, showing them they have a responsibility under the Roads Act 1993 to prevent water flowing from their land onto public roads.
The council also has the power to open up ditches into adjoining private land to let water flow off roads.
Cllr Kevin Murphy, leader of the Fine Gael party on the council, said he welcomed the document: “The volume of water coming from landholdings is making absolute trash of our roads. We need to warn landowners they will be prosecuted.”
Other councillors agreed with him that the local authority needs to be seen to enforce the law and pursue landowners who deliberately drain water onto roads.
Councillors Tim Collins and Joe Carroll both said it was important that drainage works were carried out on rural roads and suggested the council buy mini-diggers and train road workers how to use them, as this would speed up the process.
However, Cllr Danny Collins said one of the biggest problems the council encounters in keeping roads free of water is a major lack of road workers.
Since the embargo on recruiting local authority staff was introduced some years ago, the number of road workers has declined noticeably. Those who retired are not replaced and they are now the oldest cohort employed by the local authority. Because of age and being exposed on a constant basis to the weather they have high sickness rates.
Cllr Paul Hayes said he had recently noticed council engineers are now carrying out drainage works in tandem with resurfacing.
Council chief executive Tim Lucey said the part some landowners played in flooded roads would be pursued.