UNCHECKED built-up islands of silt and vegetation on the Old River Shannon is causing flooding during periods of very high rainfall, local residents have warned.
In a submission to consultants Jacobs Consulting Engineers, who have completed a Preliminary Flood Risk Assessment (PFRA), residents in Springfield, Clonlara, stated the River Shannon downsteam of the Parteen Weir is unable to take a high volume of water during flooding because of the unchecked build-up of silt and vegetation.
Commenting on the ESB report submitted to the PFRA, the group said it understands that more water was spilled down the Old River Shannon than through the Headrace during each flood.
“The Mulkear River also flows into the Shannon just above the channel restriction. This river is a fast-flowing river and during flood times when it meets the Shannon flood water, the volume of water is such that it has nowhere to go, so it backs up to us at Springfield and Illaunyregan.
“As part of the study, which is taking place at the moment, we would request that this whole area is looked at, as we believe this is one of the main causes of flooding in the above mentioned areas,” the group explained.
The group has requested that Springfield be upgraded from a probable area for further assessment (AFA) to a definite AFA in the categorisation of flood risk.
Expressing concern about the absence of dam legislation in Ireland, the group proposed this should be examined during the current flooding study. It requested a reduction in the winter levels of Lough Derg to facilitate increased storage capacity during winter months.
Highlighting the need for independent reports before the finalisation of the draft, it doesn’t agree that the various stakeholders involved with the River Shannon should be allowed to submit their own reports for the PFRA.
The Office of Public Works (OPW) recently issued its PFRA to Clare County Council for public consultation, which is regarded as an important first step in determining how flood risk will be assessed and managed in the future.
Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management (CFRAM) is an OPW-led programme to identify areas of potentially significant flood risk and consult with the public in 2011, prepare flood maps by 2013 and flood risk management plans by 2015.
A spokeswoman for the OPW explained the PFRA is only a preliminary assessment, based on available or readily derivable information.
“Analysis has been undertaken to identify areas prone to flooding and the risks associated with such flooding but it should be stressed that this analysis is purely indicative and undertaken for the purpose of completing the draft PFRA.
“The primary purpose of the public consultation on the PFRA is to facilitate the inclusion of locally derived knowledge and information to better inform this preliminary assessment of flood risk,” she said.
Meanwhile, Councillor Cathal Crowe has expressed his disappointment over the failure of a group to invite members of the Springfield Residents’ Association and some local public representatives to a recent flooding seminar in the University of Limerick.
Councillor Crowe pointed out details of the damage caused by flooding in Springfield over the last 10 years would have made an ideal case study at the event organised by the National Flood Forum.
Councillor Crowe stated Springfield was the nearest community to the university affected by the most recent flooding event in 2009.
A spokesman for the National Flood Forum recalled the group issued an open invitation to communities in the whole country to attend the event in its promotion literature and wasn’t aware of the particular difficulties experienced by Springfield residents. The group, which was originally set up in West Cork, has gone nationwide and is encouraging as many community groups to come together to tackle the difficult flooding issue.