Tag Archives: flood

The level of the Shannon

I want to see these 16 pinch points dealt with because in removing them we will drop the levels of the Shannon downstream of Athlone right down to where Deputy Harty lives. We are talking about dropping the level of the Shannon a foot and a half. The number of people who would benefit from this – the local farmer, the local business, BirdWatch Ireland – is enormous. The Government is committed to putting huge money into this.

Kevin Moran TD (Ind, Longford-Westmeath), minister for draining the Shannon,  in a Dáil Topical Issue Debate on Flood Risk Management on 16 October 2019.

I wonder which level he’s talking about.

Shannon water levels

According to the Indo, which may or may not know anything about the matter itself but probably got a press release from someone [to whom the same qualification may apply], farmers along the Shannon Callows are concerned about rising water levels at Clonown, an area on the west bank below Athlone.

The level in that area is held up by the weir at Meelick. But according to Waterways Ireland today,

[…]  low water levels exist on the upstream approaches to Meelick and Victoria Lock. Water levels are currently below Summer levels.

According to the OPW gauges at Athlone, the water level is below the 50th percentile and is falling. The same applies at Banagher, although it did exceed the 50th percentile for some days.

Three lessons suggest themselves:

  • farmers might need to get used to the idea that, when it rains, it gets wet — and that, if they choose to farm on a floodplain, their land might get wet too
  • politicians might refrain from issuing nonsensical panic-laden press releases to gain free publicity [but I suppose that’s too much to ask for]
  • journalists might like to check stuff for themselves instead of reprinting press releases unquestioningly [but that too is probably too much to ask for].

Draining the Shannon

Lough Allen to Sligo (OSI 25″ ~1900)

In looking at the map of Ireland, it has appeared to me that it may be found of advantage to prevent the waters of Lough Allen from flowing into the Shannon, and to cut a channel in a north-westerly direction, along which they may run into Sligo Bay. By this disposition of the waters of Lough Allen, not only will the channel of the Shannon be relieved from the superabundant water which now flows along during the rainy season, but they will act very beneficially in scouring out the harbour of Sligo. The Shannon might likewise be made available to the supply of power to several valuable mills to be erected on its course.

The Report of Mr George Stephenson, Civil Engineer, London, 9th July, 1831, to the Committee appointed to inquire into the practicability of improving the navigation of the Shannon, and for draining the lands in the vicinage

Meelick Weir

It says here

Minister Naughten also announced that Meelick Weir just north of Lough Derg will be removed.

I can’t find anything about this on Mr Naughten’s department’s website and Boxer Moran’s speech doesn’t mention it.

Were it true, getting a boat upstream (or indeed down) past Shannon Grove would become even more exciting. Perhaps it’s time to restore Hamilton’s Lock.

Of course if the weir is removed there will be no point in restoring the walkway.

Why rural Ireland is doomed?

Lewis Davis says:

Empirically, I find a robust negative correlation between rainfall variation, a measure of exogenous agricultural risk, and a measure of individual responsibility. Using rainfall variation as an instrument, I find that individual responsibility has a large positive effect on economic development.

Abstract on Tyler Cowen‘s site. You can rent the whole article for $6.

 

Athlone 1889

To the Editor of the Athlone Times 24/8/1889

Dear Sir

I understand that the Athlone Board of Guardians passed a resolution at a recent meeting in favour of the drainage of the Shannon. May I ask, is it the object of these enlightened gentlemen to destroy the navigation of 240 miles passing through our country, which no law can ever restore; or can it be possible they so far despair of the future traffic of the country under the management of their Parliament, in College Green, as to feel warranted in doing away with such a natural and beautiful highway for trade.

I happen, myself, to be in a position to judge the agricultural part of the question, and after the experience of 25 years of the lands which are subject to the Shannon flooding, I have no hesitation in saying that the meadows are greatly improved, and I may mention that in no way could these lands be more profitably farmed than by meadowing.

To the Athlone people, it seems to me a matter of the greatest importance, or do they realise that their beautiful river is about to be turned into a mere cesspool, their traffic to be left at the mercy of the railway companies, and their boating excursions on their fine lake to be made almost impossible, as this drainage will create such a current at the opening of the lake that it will require their strongest efforts to force a boat against it, and even after overcoming this difficulty, they would have little to look at but white shores and barren rocks.

I remain, Mr Editor, Faithfully yours… R D Levinge, Carnagh

Thanks to Vincent P Delany for this.

FPP (lapsed)

I mentioned flooded fields, zoned for housing, here. Michael Geraghty has very kindly sent on this photo, taken recently in Athlone.

Athlone Michael Geraghty 01_resize

FPP (lapsed)

How nice to have a waterfront apartment. Though it may be a bit much to have it waterback, waterside, watertop and waterbottom as well.

If there is an award for sales skills amongst auctioneers, I wish to nominate Messrs DNG.

For certain values …

In the Irish Times of 5 January 2016 Fintan O’Toole has an article headed “Genuine local democracy part of the solution to flooding“. He points out that

  • in 2004 the Irish Times property supplement showed a photograph [we are not told whether it was part of an ad or advertorial or of a critique of property development] showing a sign advertising for sale a flooded field that had been zoned for residential use
  • in 1997 a resident of Clonmel detailed how the town’s natural flood defences had been destroyed
  • in 1999 a man in Ennis blamed the flooding of his house on the granting of too many planning permissions
  • in 2000 3500 Clonmel residents objected to building on flood plains
  • nitwitted local councillors didn’t care.

He concludes that

As flooding gets worse, we will have to spend enormous amounts of money on engineering solutions. But in fact one part of the solution doesn’t cost any money at all. It’s called listening. Or, to give it its political title, it’s called genuine local democracy. Top-down, very expensive technocratic measures may have to be part of the response. But they will only work in a political culture that has eyes to look at the land and ears to listen to what people know about it.

Well, up to a point, Lord Copper. The article provides no evidence that a majority of the citizens — in any local authority area, Dáil constituency or other political unit — shares the erudite and enlightened views of those who write letters to, or columns in, the Irish Times. In fact, given that the citizens have, over more than one hundred years, continued to elect large numbers of nitwits to the local authorities and, for almost a century, to the Dáil, it seems unlikely that democracy — genuine, local or otherwise — will ever produce the right answers.

Which may explain why so much power now resides elsewhere, in the hands of experts and courtiers, and why elected representatives are reduced to throwing the occasional tantrum, providing tea and sympathy and making empty promises that then come back to haunt them.

 

The Ballina pontoon

That’s Ballina, Co Tipperary, on the Shannon, opposite Killaloe.

Killaloe 20160101 14_resize

Looking upstream

Killaloe 20160101 15_resize

The ramp

Killaloe 20160101 20_resize

Looking downstream

Killaloe 20160101 21_resize

From the railway footbridge

Photos taken on 1 January 2016.

The pontoon seems to be more severely affected than it was in the last big floods, on 22 November 2009.

New Ballina pontoon in floods 20091122 1_resize

From across the river

New Ballina pontoon in floods 20091122 2_resize

From the bridge

 

Managing the Shannon

Sometimes you have to wonder about politicians and their grasp of reality. Take, for instance, young Mr Adams, Sinn Féin TD for Louth. There he was in the Dáil the other day, talking about flooding on the Shannon, and saying (amongst other things):

No single agency is responsible for the management of the River Shannon. Will the Taoiseach give full responsibility to the OPW for management of the Shannon?

Can Mr Adams have forgotten that, under the Good Friday Agreement, a cross-border implementation body called Waterways Ireland, reporting jointly to the Minister for Fairytales in the republic and the Minister for Marching Bands [a Sinn Féin MLA] in Northern Ireland, is responsible for navigation on certain named waterways including the Shannon?

Giving the Office of Public Works full responsibility for the management of the Shannon would require renegotiation of the Good Friday Agreement [and perhaps some later agreements]. I gather that the members of HM Devolved Administration in Northern Ireland delight in doing that sort of thing, but reducing the powers of the largest of the cross-border implementation bodies might not be wise.