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Dubliners urged to stop paving gardens for parking due to negative environmental impacts

Creep of concrete and tarmac causing flooding and sewage pollution of rivers and streams, says city council

Dublin City Council is appealing to householders to stop covering their front gardens with concrete and tarmac due to increasing flooding and sewerage overflows into watercourses.

The trend of paving over front gardens for parking is emerging as one of the biggest causes of local pollution of rivers and streams, particularly in older city suburbs such as Rathmines and Rathgar, the council said.

The council has also noted grass is increasingly replaced with concrete and asphalt around transport hubs such as the Broombridge Luas stop in Cabra, with residents renting out the additional parking spaces to commuters.

The core city area – between the canals and older red brick, largely Victorian suburbs – still operates on combined sewerage systems which carry sewage from houses as well as rainwater.


“These systems were originally designed that if you got a lot of rainfall they could overflow out to a river or a stream, but the intention was that would happen very rarely and only when there was a lot of rainwater compared to the amount of sewage there,” Padraig Doyle, senior engineer with the council’s drainage section said.

“The problem is because we’ve continued developing and growing the city, and a lot of those sewers are still old Victorian sewers. When we get a lot of rainfall now, or even modest enough amounts of rainfall, they can overflow into rivers and streams carrying sewage into the natural environments, causing pollution.

“Every time someone paves over their garden the rain that would have soaked into the grass is now going straight down to the sewer system which is already over full and therefore you’re getting an increased risk of either flooding or pollution.”

The council is spending millions implementing “nature-based drainage” solutions, such as removing on-street parking spaces and replacing them with tree-pits and other planting. “It takes quite a long time to get those implemented and at the same time we’ve got people turning around and doing the reverse in their gardens, causing more of a problem than we’re actually solving by spending a couple of million with the on-street job,” Mr Doyle said.

“People might say my one garden isn’t going to make a big difference, but the problem is there are thousands of people doing this all over the city and the cumulative effect, that does make a difference.”

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Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times