Water levels on Lough Allen lowered to prevent repeat flooding

Fiona Heavey

Reporter:

Fiona Heavey

Water levels on Lough Allen lowered to prevent repeat flooding

Lough Allen

The Office of Public Works (OPW) has confirmed that the levels of Lough Allen, Co Leitrim, will be lowered this Winter to ease a build-up of water at pressure points downstream.

Leitrim CEO Frank Curran recently told council members that the levels in Lough Allen are at a record low as part of a project to see if lower water levels would prevent drastic flooding in Carrick-on-Shannon and surrounding areas.

The OPW manages government policy on flood risk. It said a number of major schemes were being designed or built to address flood risk in the Shannon region.

A working group - made up of the ESB, Waterways Ireland, Bord na Mona, Inland Fisheries Ireland, the National Parks and Wildlife Service, Environment Protection Agency, OPW and local authorities - has held discussions on addressing future flood risks.

The lowering of water levels, which has been called for over a number of years locally will be monitored closely to see if it makes much of a difference over Winter 2016/17.

Minister of State Sean Canney said that the group will discuss both this evaluation and progression with the lake levels trial at its next meeting at the end of November.

Frank Curran told council members in Ballinamore recently the lowering of Lough Allen might make the difference of just 3cm in Carrick-on-shannon. But if heavy rain were to persist over Winter, 3cm could be the difference between the river breaking its banks or not.

A spokesperson for the OPW said the working group had also agreed to study the benefits from any short and medium-term programme of localised dredging. The OPW are are also examining proposals to dredge certain points of the Shannon to also help reduce flooding locally.

Leitrim councillors and residents have raised the issue of dredging repeatedly, but have been told the council only had authority to clean hedges and banks, not to dredge and move any natural rock. Leitrim County Council told members recently with the funding available “it would take 40 years to get around to all the rivers in Leitrim.”

Ballinamore Area councillors were recently disappointed to hear that the OPW will not reestablish local drainage boards. Cllr Ellis said there were “no costs” really associated with the boards and Cllr Paddy O’Rourke said it gave responsibility to one engineer and that made sense. The issues of drainage had previously been noted as adding to localised flooding.

The weather has been unusually dry and mild so far this Autumn, and weather predictions has November also looking mild and dry.