Tag Archives: CFRAM

The monsoon is coming …

… perhaps. The water depth at Banagher has stayed at around 2.1 metres but that at Athlone has gone down to about 2.0 metres. Are TPTB lowering Lough Ree so that it can store the water from the autumnal rains? Information welcome.

Lowering Lough Ree

I reported in October and in November on the lowering of the level of Lough Ree, in advance of heavy rain, to see whether that would help to manage flooding on the Shannon Callows further downstream.

The interim data from the experiment is available on the OPW website here [seven-page PDF]. The conclusion is:

From the water level records, it is apparent that the closing of the gates at Athlone weir in anticipation of a rise in water levels on Lough Ree led to a temporary lowering of the Shannon water levels immediately downstream of Athlone. This possibly delayed inundation of the Shannon callows downstream of Athlone by a number of days. To determine whether the extent or depth of eventual inundation was in any way reduced by the experiment will require more detailed analysis by the CFRAM consultants. Data is available on request from Hydrometric Section if required.

It should be stressed that this is an interim report. This CFRAM background document [PDF] is still useful.

It is not clear to me why the state should spend any money improving the value of privately owned riverside land that is of marginal benefit to the economy.


Cutting and pasting

One of the problems with all this newfangled technology is that some things — like, for instance, copying a block of text from one document into another – are so easy that folk may forget to check their work afterwards.

Consider, for instance, the Office of Public Works, which seems to have a block of boilerplate text ready for answering written boilerplate questions from midlands TDs who have discovered that things get wet when it rains.

On 22 January 2014 Denis Naughten [Ind, Roscommon/South Leitrim, which — let it be admitted — The Lord intended to be rather boggy and sad] had this question:

To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the steps being taken to address flood risks within the Shannon basin; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

The answer tells Mr Naughten about CFRAM — nothing he didn’t know before he asked, I imagine — but it included this sentence:

On foot of discussions between my colleague, Minister of State Hayes and the IFA, and with the cooperation of both the ESB and Waterways Ireland, a water level monitoring exercise is being carried out as part of the CFRAM process which will allow for analysis of water flows and levels at key points around the Lough Ree and Callows areas.

The highlighting is mine: it seemed a bit odd because this written answer was allegedly being given by Mr Hayes.

Mr Naughten had another Q&A here, but it’s not very interesting.





Matters of minor importance

Some recent(ish) discussions amongst the People’s Representatives. I haven’t time to analyse them all. All links courtesy of the estimable KildareStreeet.com.

Brendan Smith [FF, Cavan-Monaghan] wants a sheugh in Clones; he got the usual answer. And he allowed Jimmy Deenihan [FG, Kerry North/West Limerick] to announce, on 19 December 2013, the death of the suggested extension of the Erne navigation to Lough Oughter [loud cheers]:

Brendan Smith: To ask the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if he has received the feasibility study on the proposed extension of the Erne navigation from Belturbet to Killeshandra and Killykeen; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Jimmy Deenihan: I am informed by Waterways Ireland that it commissioned a Strategic Environment Assessment for the possible extension of the Erne Navigation from Belturbet to Killeshandra and Killykeen.

On reviewing the environmental information from this process, Waterways Ireland considers that the environmental designations of this lake complex make the feasibility of the proposed navigation extension highly unviable. For that reason, I am advised that Waterways Ireland does not propose to pursue this project any further at this time.

Well, that’s one minor victory for sanity. Here’s how a dredger got to Lough Oughter in 1857.

Maureen O’Sullivan is anxious to recreate the economy of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries by using canals for carrying cargoes. Especially on the Shannon–Erne Waterway, where commercial carrying was so successful before. [What is it about the Irish left?] Thank goodness that the sainted Leo Varadkar gave not an inch: someone should make that man Taoiseach, President and Minister for Finance. And Supreme Ruler of The Universe and Space.

The web-footed inhabitants of the midlands, who have discovered that they live in a flat area with rivers, keep wittering on about Shannon flooding, failing to realise that it is a message from The Lord, telling them to either (a) move to higher ground, eg Dublin, or build arks. On 15 January 2014 Brian Hayes told Denis Naughten, inter alia, that info from the recent OPW/CFRAM monitoring of water levels on Lough Ree (which I think was when the levels were lowered) would be placed on the OPW website “in the coming days”; I haven’t been able to find it yet so I’ve emailed the OPW to ask about it. And on 21 January one James Bannon said that he intends to introduce a bill setting up a Shannon authority, which will have magical powers. Well, if it doesn’t have magical powers it won’t be able to stop the Shannon flooding, but perhaps it’s designed to allow the unemployed landowners of Ireland another forum in which to demand taxpayers’ money to prop up their uneconomic activities.

Finally, a senator called John Whelan wants a longer consultation period on the proposed amendments to the canals bye-laws. I suppose I’d better read them  myself.


On 9 October 2013 minister Brian Hayes spoke in the Dáil about Shannon water levels, saying:

A meeting between the ESB, Waterways Ireland and the Office of Public Works to review the interim operating regime is due to take place shortly.

On 17 and 18 October 2013, in correspondence with Waterways Ireland, I learned that the meeting had not then taken place and that no date had been set. I have now sent WI another note asking whether the meeting has been held and, if it has, requesting a report on the proceedings and outcome.

In the meantime, I have put together two charts nicked from waterlevel.ie for Banagher and Athlone:

Athlone and Banagher water levels

Athlone and Banagher water levels

Both of them show the levels for the last 35 days. I’m sure that more data and much more sophisticated analysis would be required to reach any reliable conclusion, but my untutored impression is that, in what has been a fairly dry autumn, keeping Lough Ree low didn’t do much to keep Banagher low. If that is so, and if I’m right in thinking that this autumn was dry (see below), the outcome would not show whether lowering Lough Ree would help in a very wet season; it may be necessary to repeat the experiment next year while performing rain dances. I would be glad, though, to have comments from more erudite folk and, if I get any information from TPTB, I’ll publish it here. In the meantime, this CFRAM PDF provides background reading.

On the dryness: Met Éireann’s monthly report for September 2013 is headed “Dry everywhere; warm and dull in most places” while that for October says “Rainfall was above average except in parts of the West, Northwest and North”. Its report doesn’t, AFAIK, specify any stations in the Shannon catchment (apart from Shannon Airport), but those to the west were generally below average while whose to the east were above; it may be that the Shannon rainfall was moderate.

Like the Mary Ellen Carter …

rise againJust a few weeks ago the depth was around 1.7m at Athlone weir, about 7″ above the navigational minimum. But today the depth is over 2.4m and, with staff gauge zero at 35.360m above Poolbeg datum, the water level is 37.760 m above Poolbeg datum.