Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Questions (22, 23)

Denis Naughten

Question:

22 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the steps he is taking to address the summer flooding in the Shannon Callows; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32387/12]

View answer

Denis Naughten

Question:

43 Deputy Denis Naughten asked 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. [32388/12]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Minister for Expenditure)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 22 and 43 together.

I am very aware of the serious situation in relation to flooding this summer on the Shannon and in the Shannon Callows in particular, and having visited the area myself last year, I am very conscious of the severe impact on both farming and the environment in the area due to flooding. Flooding in the Callows can occur as a result of large flows from either the River Suck, the Upper Shannon from Lough Ree or a combination of both. The inflow from the River Brosna also contributes to flooding in this area. This has been the wettest June on record at most of the stations in the Shannon catchment, and as a general indication, rainfall in this area has been between 2 and 3 times the long-term average for June. Due to the very heavy rain, the water in the Shannon, and particularly in the Callows area, has risen to high levels for this time of year.

I have been monitoring the situation very closely and, as the Deputy knows, I have organised meetings with local elected representatives and senior representatives of both Waterways Ireland and the ESB to discuss the situation. The control of water flows and levels on the Shannon falls under the operational and statutory remit of both those bodies. The Office of Public Works has no responsibility or direct role in this regard. I am anxious to ensure, however, that the protocol operated by those bodies for controlling water levels on the river is such that, when heavy rain is forecast, appropriate and timely steps are taken by them to help reduce the impact of flooding.

On a wider level, the problem of flooding in the Shannon catchment is being examined under the Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management Study (CFRAMS) for the River Shannon. This involves a comprehensive examination of all the main factors affecting flood risk in the Shannon area and incorporates a full consultation with all of the main stakeholders who have a role in the management of the Shannon, including the ESB, Waterways Ireland and relevant Local Authorities. The summer flooding of the Shannon Callows will be specifically examined in the CFRAM study.