Sluice gates opened along Shannon due to flood worries


AFTER MOUNTING concerns about flooding along the river Shannon, the ESB and Waterways Ireland have opened sluice gates at locks and dams from Co Leitrim all the way down to Ardnacrusha, Co Limerick.

Water levels in the upper Shannon navigation had been rising significantly since September and are close to the tops of quay walls at Cootehall, Co Roscommon, and Leitrim village, Carrick-on-Shannon, Dromod and Drumsna in Co Leitrim.

The ESB, which monitors and manages the levels of water in the river, also said the threat of flooding in the upper Shannon had abated in recent days, with water levels in Lough Allen dropping by about a third of a metre.

The ESB said the levels were below those immediately prior to severe flooding of Carrick-on-Shannon in November 2009.

While the situation was subject to amounts of rainfall, forecasts indicated levels would drop over coming days, the ESB said.

The ESB has been discharging constantly from its Ardnacrusha power plant in Co Limerick for the past few days, while a spokesman for the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland, which represents waterway users, said there was still capacity in Lough Derg at the southern end of the river.

A spokesman for the ESB said the Shannon was a relatively slow-moving river with a comparatively small difference in height over its length. Because of this it drained slowly.

The spokesman said levels in Lough Ree in the mid-Shannon which have risen throughout October appear to have stabilised.

About 12in of lock gates were showing above water in Athlone yesterday. Minor leaks were reported along the embankment on the Connacht side of the river below Meelick in Co Galway.

An ESB spokesman said while it was discharging from Ardnacrusha, it was also open to the authority to drain water via Parteen weir.

Waterways Ireland has opened sluice gates at Jamestown and Roosky in the north Shannon. A spokeswoman said the channel at Meelick was also being dredged.