Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Questions (13)

Denis Naughten

Question:

13. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the steps he is taking to implement the recommendations in the Joint Committee on the Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht report on Shannon flooding published in 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23690/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

As outlined to the Deputy in the reply to Parliamentary Questions 16 and 41 of 26 February 2014, the core strategy for addressing flood risk in the Shannon Basin is the River Shannon Catchment Flood Risk Assessment & Management (CFRAM) Study and I am advised that good progress continues to be made on the project.

A total of 66 locations along the Shannon have been identified for further assessment under the Study. The output of this important project will be an integrated plan of specific measures to address, in a comprehensive and sustainable way, the significant flood risk factors in the Shannon basin.

As the Deputy is aware, operational control of water flows and levels on the Shannon is the responsibility of both the ESB and Waterways Ireland. In order to address ongoing concerns that the existing water level control regime may be a contributory factor in early Summer flooding in the Callows, the OPW facilitated discussions between these principal operating stakeholders with a view to their agreeing a new interim control regime on the regulation of water levels. Under this interim regime the ESB agreed to a trial lowering of the Spring/early Summer target levels in Lough Ree to reduce somewhat the risk of summer flooding, particularly in the Shannon Callows area. This trial commenced in Summer 2013 and will remain in place until the publication of the Shannon CFRAM Plan.

On foot of discussions between the OPW and the IFA and with the cooperation of both the ESB and Waterways Ireland, a water level monitoring exercise is being carried out as part of the CFRAM process. This will allow for analysis of water flows and levels at key points around the Lough Ree and Callows areas. Interim data from this exercise has been collated and this data will feed into the overall Shannon CFRAM study. The interim data is available on www.shannoncframstudy.ie and on www.opw.ie. The OPW will continue to review these developments on a regular basis in consultation with the ESB and Waterways Ireland.

The Joint Committee on the Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht report on Shannon flooding dealt with and included recommendations on a number of issues within the areas of responsibilities of a range of Government Departments and State Bodies. The OPW responded to the Committee, by way of a written reply in September 2012, in relation to the specific matters within the OPW's area of responsibility. The main area addressed in the reply related to the CFRAM programme and how the OPW is addressing flood risk on the River Shannon in the context of that Programme. The Committee Report was forwarded to OPW's technical consultants for consideration in the context of the Shannon CFRAM Study. The Committee received a briefing from the OPW in late 2012 including briefing on the Shannon Levels Operations Report.