Focus on Winter Flooding
Posted on : September 15, 2016
A Press Release written by Brian Kenny on behalf of Carrick on Shannon Chamber
Winter flooding now poses a significant threat to our business community and indeed to the general community. Businesses have suffered major losses in both 2009 and more significantly in 2015/16 when the floods persisted from early December to the end of January. To that end, the Chamber has established a sub-committee to ensure that the risk of flooding in our wider community is minimised in the most cost effective manner. Prevention being preferable to cure, it recognises that individual premises may be protected at great cost but raising the entire community and its infrastructure above rising flood levels is less feasible and less sustainable than lowering the river flood level. This will require a continuous programme of works some of which can be commenced immediately.
As we approach another long and potentially wet winter, the Carrick on Shannon Chamber of Commerce has called on the OPW, the body appointed as lead agency for delivery of flood risk management policy in Ireland, to take the immediate steps available to it to actually reduce the risk of flooding in Carrick on Shannon (and Leitrim) this Winter.
The communities of Knockvicar, Leitrim, Carrick on Shannon and Jamestown and the surrounding rural areas live with the fear of this threat – homes and businesses destroyed with flood waters, being imprisoned in their homes for weeks or months, cut-off from essential services including doctors, hospitals, schools and work while traffic diversions and flooded car-parks result in a significant loss of business in the lead up to Christmas or during the January sales.
Is this to become an annual phenomenon with the area flood-bound for two months every winter. Will the “flood plain” eventually reach Main St.? Well, if the river is allowed to become over-grown and obstructions placed in it’s path, just add a little climate change and areas that never flooded before will find themselves knee-deep in the Shannon – to everybody’s surprise!
The CCC, calls on the OPW to prioritise works outside of the AFA’s which will improve the efficiency of the river. These will lead to benefits for everyone- rural, urban, traffic and emergency services. They will reduce the risk and severity of flooding of individual properties. It will also mitigate the unquantified effects of climate change and most importantly, will lead to an improved understanding of the river system. This process will harness the vast amount of information already gathered under the CFRAMs process and will allow the models to be calibrated more accurately with the benefit of continuous local inputs.
The Chamber of Commerce calls on the OPW as lead agency, to ensure that the following measures are implemented by the end of October –
- Manage Lough Allen to reduce peak river flows. A common sense measure costing the taxpayer absolutely nothing is to pass as much water as possible down the river now while the river is low. The CCC has called on the ESB and the OPW to reduce levels in Lough Allen to the minimum by the 30th September by keeping the gates at Bellantra opened to 400mm (16”) during this month until this level is reached. This reduces the flow in the river later on when the river is in spate. Over the next few weeks, we will report on the actual progress made on achieving this goal.
- Clear vegetation from the river channel/bank at Charlestown, Jamestown and flood channel blockages at Mountcampbell.
- Model the effect on flood levels in Carrick on Shannon of lifting the gates at Jamestown clear of the flood-waters.
In relation to Lough Allen, there is currently more than 33.5 million m3 of water in the lake in excess of what is required for navigation purposes. All of this water must pass down through Leitrim and Carrick on Shannon. This should be passed down over the next two weeks when it will have no adverse effect on anyone. (At present only 3 gates are open at Jamestown, Rooskey and Tarmonbarry because of lack of water in the river).
This is a summary of the current situation in Lough Allen –
Click on links to listen to the Shannonside Broadcast Sept 5th on managing flood risk in Carrick on Shannon Part 1 and Part 2 on the Lets Talk Show with MaryClaire Grealy talking to Brian Kenny, Colm McGrath and Liam Farrell.