An independent review of the ESB’s management of rivers and dams in Ireland, including the River Shannon, has been sought by flooding victims in Clonlara.
Geraldine Quinlivan has written to Environment Minister John Gormley with a number of requests after homes and land in Springfield, Clonlara suffered from extensive flooding for the second time in three years.
Her elderly mother, Nora Mason, 80, had to be evacuated from her home with the assistance of a tractor when the most recent flooding was at its worst last November.
In her letter, Ms Quinlivan asked Minister Gormley to secure a commitment from the ESB that they would not release water in the middle of the night, when water levels at Parteen Weir are extremely high, or once a flood risk has been issued.
She has asked for a review of water levels in Lough Derg during the winter months as well as an assessment of its capacity to take in additional high volumes of rainfall during this period.
She suggested that one organisation should be established to look after the River Shannon and expressed concern about the number of bodies currently responsible for the management of the river including the Office of Public Works, National Parks and Wildlife, ESB, Waterways Ireland and local authorities.
Four homes in the Springfield area, which is located about two and a half miles from Clonlara village, had to be evacuated last November. Ms Quinlivan recalled that she couldn’t get into her house because it was totally surrounded by water on Wednesday, November 18; about two feet of water entered the house of her mother; a few inches of water went in to the house of her brother, John Mason, while another neighbour, Patrick Ryan suffered flood damage as well.
Ms Mason has been forced to move in with Geraldine, Joe and their four boys after her house was ruined in the flooding. Family members managed to salvage a few personal items such as photographs but furniture, electrical items and other fittings were destroyed.
Geraldine explained that the family were anxious to get her mother back into her own house as quickly as possible because it was specially adapted to meet her own needs.
She is also anxious that flood protection measures would be provided in the Springfield area and is worried about further flooding.
She expressed disappointment that officials from the Office of Public Works or the ESB had not been in contact with local residents to get their assessment of what happened last November, considering houses were also flooded in the area in December 2006.
“I believe the ESB has questions to answer in relation to the management of the River Shannon. To the best of my knowledge, Parteen Weir is being managed from Ardnacrusha Power Station and I think it would be more effective if there was a person stationed there in the wintertime and when there is a flood risk issued.
“We got no flood warning in Springfield last November. This was the worst flooding, which only started in this area since 1995. I am living three quarters of a mile from the River Shannon and some of my neighbours are living a half a mile and still we are being flooded.
“It is soul destroying what has happened to our family. I can’t face the thoughts of having another flooding incident. I would like action to be taken to ensure this doesn’t happen again,” she said.
John Mason, who thinks that he will have to replace most of his floorboards, believes the ESB should examine the possibility of appointing a caretaker at Parteen Weir to monitor water levels during the wintertime and at times of flood risk.
Having been forced to leave his house for 10 days with his wife and 12 year-old son, John recalled he never saw the flooding as bad in Springfield until the latest one.
An ESB spokeswoman said that the agency had to discharge water at the time of the flooding because of unprecedented water levels at Lough Derg. She said there was no change in the level of water being discharged by the ESB after dark and noted that the overall water levels were constantly being monitored by the agency.
She added that during the flooding situation the ESB had a person on site at Parteen Weir to monitor the water levels.