Published: Tuesday, 12th March, 2013 3:58pm
Water levels are to be reduced on Lough Ree.
The ESB is set to reduce water levels on Lough Ree on a trial basis, it’s emerged today.Welcoming the move, Minister of State with special responsibility for the Office of Public Works (OPW) Brian Hayes said the decision may help to alleviate seasonal flooding in the Shannon Callows and was taken in consultation with Waterways Ireland and the OPW.“Following consultations between the OPW, ESB and Waterways Ireland, ESB will change on a trial basis the existing control regime. This will remain in place until the publication of the Flood Risk Management Plan for The Shannon Catchment. It will provide for a lowering of the Spring/early Summer target levels in Lough Ree. By increasing the storage capacity in Lough Ree this change may reduce somewhat the risk of summer flooding in the callows,” the Junior Minister, who has visited Athlone several times to hear local flooding concerns stated.“If the recent period of low rainfall continues, conditions may be suitable to carry out an experiment promised as part of the CFRAM process to examine the efficacy of drawing down Lough Ree on foot of a five day forecast of future heavy rainfall. This can only be done when the waters released at Athlone will not cause water logging in the callows downstream. This exercise will also provide valuable calibration data on the behaviour of the waterbody,” he continued.The Minister concluded by saying that he is very aware of the hardship caused by flooding events in the Shannon Callows, an important asset to the farming community and my office is committed to facilitating and exploring measures which will reduce the risk. “I welcome and acknowledge the constructive engagement of the main parties (ESB/WI) to explore ways to improve the situation within the constraints they have to operate to and the willingness by ESB/WI to co-operate in this process. I see this as a positive move in the right direction which should benefit landowners in the Shannon Callows,” he concluded.