IFA condemns Shannon management

Thu, Jul 12, 2012, 01:00

The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) today criticised what it claimed was water mismanagement as it reported serious disruption to farming around the country due to the ongoing wet weather.

IFA president John Bryan said the broken weather and flooding was significantly adding to costs as cattle remain indoors with the mart trade and grain farmers also affected.

The IFA estimates the cost of the bad weather to the farming community from June 1st could be approximately €120 million, calculated on the loss of output figures and extra costs incurred.

Farmers along the River Shannon are the most impacted by flooding and water damage, the organisation said.

Mr Bryan said the poor ground conditions because of the exceptionally high levels of rainfall have been exacerbated by what he said was gross mismanagement of the River Shannon by a number of agencies.

“The political will does not appear to exist to implement a proper management system that will minimise the impact of flooding on farmland. It is unacceptable that farmers in the Shannon catchment continue to experience unnecessary hardship year in year out.”

Water management along the river Shannon is currently undertaken by OPW, ESB and Waterways Ireland.

A spokesperson for the IFA has said the problem lies with the various agencies “pulling in different directions," adding: "They are each doing their own thing and what they deem best, but the landowners bear the brunt of it.”

He said the farmers' body has requested an “urgent meeting” with OPW to discuss problems with flooding and want the company to take lead management of the area.

Edward Delahunt (63), a farmer from Lusmagh, Co Offaly, said he has “three fields of water” and has never witnessed the situation so bad. He also claimed the problem lies with the mismanagement of the River Shannon.

“As far as we’re concerned there is no liaison between the agencies involved. We need a single authority to take the management of water by the scruff of the neck. We had 36 hours of rain before sluices or gates to control the levels of water were opened. It’s not good enough. They have to act ahead of a flood coming,” je said.

IFA flood project team leader Michael Silke was particularly critical of Waterways Ireland, which he accused of ignoring farmers when deciding on water levels along the Shannon.

“We need to see one agency overseeing a comprehensive maintenance and drainage programme that will alleviate the flooding problem. Agencies that are not accountable cannot continue to inflict difficulties on farmers.”

Waterways Ireland issued a statement saying they monitor water levels on a daily basis, sometimes several times a day, along the Shannon navigation.

“Waterways Ireland also constantly monitors the Met Éireann 3 and 5 day forecasts in relation to precipitation levels.

"A number of reports undertaken by independent consultants have assessed Waterways Ireland’s operating procedures in particular to summer flood events over the past number of years. The reports found no fault with Waterways Ireland’s operating procedures," the statement added.