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Shannonvale residents are losing patience with sewage problem

March 26th, 2021 7:05 AM

By Jackie Keogh

Barry O’Mahony holds up a glass of raw sewage, taken from the public ‘park’ at Shannonvale, and a report that is more than two decades old, to signify how long they have been campaigning to have the problem fixed.

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Shannonvale residents have accused successive governments, and other State bodies of ‘decades of negligence’ due to the seepage on their once much-loved public space

RESIDENTS of Shannonvale – which is located 3km north of Clonakilty – have now been campaigning for 25 years – a quarter of a century – to have a problem with a sewage system, that is polluting their village green, rectified.

Resident Barry O’Mahony told The Southern Star that engineers have not only identified the problem, they have also come up with solutions to the problem.

However, nothing has been done because of a lack of funding.

Mr O’Mahony said a residents’ committee has identified a possible source of funding, the Outdoor Public Space Scheme 2021, which is currently accepting applications from local authorities.

‘This scheme,’ according to Mr O’Mahony, ‘offers a limited-time opportunity to put right almost 25 years of wrongs.’

Speaking on behalf of the residents, as well as all the users of the Clonakilty’s public water supply – which is taking run-off from the leaking sewage system – Mr O’Mahony called on locals and public representatives to lobby Cork County Council on their behalf.

There are 130 houses in the area, and one pub, but no public amenities.

There is, however, a small field on the north bank of the River Argideen – which is owned by Cork County Council – that had served as a village green, and was used as a venue for community festivals, barbecues, musical performances and sporting activities.

Mr O’Mahony said the area is no longer used and deteriorating remnants of the volunteer-built barbecue area, picnic area, flower beds and mosaic mural can still be seen among the weeds, briars and wild grass that have taken over the space.

Since the late 1990s, the Council-owned wastewater soakaway, on top of which the park sits, and the connected cesspit, have been failing.

And that is why raw sewage from nine private houses is surfacing into the park.
Residents began to raise the issue with Cork County Council as early as 1996, and the issue has been featured many times in The Southern Star.

‘Not only has the problem not been fixed, it’s getting worse,’ according to Mr O’Mahony, ‘and it’s evident to locals that the treatment system has now completely failed.

‘After even brief periods of rainfall, a standing pool of raw human waste some 10-20cm deep covers an area of well over 10m2 across the entire upper half of the park,’ he said.

‘This means it is entirely unsafe to engage in any recreational activities on the site, owing to the severe public health risk it poses,’ added Barry.

During summer months, some homeowners have to contend with disgusting odours emanating from the failing system, and flies entering homes are posing further health risks.
Mr O’Mahony said that five years ago, Irish Water posted a planning notice of works designed to remediate the situation, but neither Irish Water nor the Council did any actual work.

‘We are now calling on Cork County Council to utilise this Outdoor Public Space Scheme 2021 to end, once and for all, the scandalous situation at Shannonvale,’ he said.

Mr O’Mahony said the new scheme is ideal because it is designed to fund projects that support the arts, culture, creative activities, entertainment events and festivals.

He said their village fits that criteria because since the park  amenity was lost to the sewage flood, Shannonvale has been left without a public gathering space.

It has ceased to hold its annual summer festival, its children’s sports day, its adults’ 5-a-side soccer matches.

‘Shannonvale,’ he added, ‘has lost the opportunity to promote any other cultural, artistic or tourism activities, for the want of a public space in which to hold them.’

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