DISCUSSIONS are set to begin between the Ennis Municipal District and Office of Public Works on the possibility of automating flood gates at the Maid of Éireann.
The local authority confirmed the move as fears were recently raised about the effects increased levels of rainfall on nearby farmland could have on the town’s water supply.
However, the council have cautioned that while the automation of these gates is “not impossible” it would be “a very complex process”.
Councillor Johnny Flynn, speaking at a meeting of Ennis Municipal District councillors, highlighted his “concern for public health” in Ennis’ water supply if contaminated water from flooded lands was to enter at Drumcliff.
He recalled how Ennis households were placed under a boil notice in previous years when cryptosporidium was detected in the water supply. The councillor pointed out that the parasite can spread when animal waste is washed off lands as he called for action to be taken to help prevent flooding on local farmlands.
He urged the council, “In light of the effects of climate change in terms of increased levels of rainfall causing flooding of farmland due to the increased water levels upstream of the weir at the Maid of Erin I ask that Ennis Municipal District Executive engage with the relevant State bodies, such as the OPW, to look at the provision of automatic gates at the weir to let off water downstream of the weir.”
He explained that at the moment the gates need to be opened manually, outlining that while waiting for this to happen during heavy rainfall “it results in significant flooding of lands”.
One local landowner expressed concern to Councillor Flynn after suffering up to 20 acres of flooded lands in recent weeks, with the councillor saying this is having a “huge impact”.
Paddy Tiernan, acting senior executive engineer, responded, “Ennis Municipal District will liaise with the Office of Public Works and discuss the possibility of automating the flood gates at the Maid of Erin.
“This process will commence within the upcoming weeks. Currently the flood gates are operated manually by Ennis Municipal District staff and are not reliant on an electric power source.
“In establishing the optimum height of the gates at any given time Ennis Municipal District consider several variables including upstream water levels, downstream water levels, the operation of the fish pass and weather forecasts. It is envisaged that the automation of these gates, although not impossible, will be a very complex process.”
Councillor Flynn insisted “we should have an automatic system in place, it is not impossible and this is of significant importance.”
Voicing her support for the motion, Councillor Mary Howard said local landowners are becoming “frustrated when their lands are flooded and it is only a matter of getting the flood gates open to relieve the pressure.”