I am glad to hear it. I will deal with Deputy Murphy's point first and then with the points made by Deputy Harty, who asked about protection measures in County Clare and a number of other issues. I will try to address all of the questions raised.
I thank the Deputies for raising this important matter. At this time of the year, as we approach the winter season, it is opportune that we consider our preparedness as a country to respond to severe weather events, such as flooding. I am aware of the impact flooding can have on individual households and on communities at large. Since taking up my current position, I have visited many such communities and have first-hand experience of seeing the devastation flooding can cause.
On 3 May 2018, I was delighted to launch 29 flood risk management plans and €1 billion in investment in flood risk over the coming decade. These plans are the output from the catchment flood risk assessment and management, CFRAM, programme, the largest ever flood risk study carried out in the State. The plans set out the measures proposed to address the flood risk nationally and include 118 new schemes to protect towns, villages and cities nationally. They include 19 in the catchment of the River Shannon in particular, in addition to the scheme already under way in Athlone, which is due to be completed in 2021.
I and the Government are working extremely hard to ensure the greatest possible progress is made over the next number of years on the continued delivery of a very ambitious programme of investment in flood defence and flood risk management measures. The commitment of €1 billion in the national development plan to this objective is a clear sign of how high a priority this is for the Government.
Twelve of these schemes have been prioritised as part of this ten-year programme. Engagement with the local authorities is ongoing in regard to Springfield, Ballinasloe, Nenagh, Longford, Rahan, Castleconnell, Mohill, Leitrim, Clonaslee, Carrick-on-Shannon, and Killaloe, and for Limerick city, King's Island and its environs. The OPW has completed a scheme at Portavolla in Banagher and I am also working with Roscommon County Council on the Athleague scheme.
Along the banks of the Shannon, procurement is scheduled to commence in the coming months to appoint engineering consultants for the design, development and planning of flood relief schemes in Limerick city and environs; Leitrim village; Carrick-on-Shannon, County Leitrim; and Killaloe-Ballina, in counties Clare and Tipperary. Local authorities have been supported through funding from the OPW under the minor flood mitigation works and coastal protection scheme in putting in place more than 540 local-scale flood protection projects, protecting more than 6,800 properties nationally. The funding available from my office to the office of minor works projects has increased from €2 million to €5 million per annum. This is a huge endorsement by the local authorities, and I encourage all local authorities in this regard because sometimes they do not realise that money is available for minor works. People do not come into my Department to discuss this. I would like to see them do so more often.
As Deputy Eugene Murphy mentioned, this year to the end of September, average rainfall was 820 mm in areas of the Shannon catchment area. This year we have had a lot more rain - 1,050 mm in certain areas. That is more than 230 mm, or 9 or 10 inches, above average.
The Government established the Shannon flood risk State agency co-ordination working group in 2016 to support plans already in place to address flooding on the Shannon and to enhance the ongoing co-operation of all State agencies involved with the River Shannon. The group has taken a number of significant decisions since its establishment, including targeted maintenance activities at a number of locations; trialling the lowering of levels on Lough Allen; studies to explore managing flood risk at the Callows; and a study on the cause, degree and rate of restriction downstream of Parteen Weir. I thank all those involved in the working group.
The group is also considering a feasible long-term maintenance programme for the River Shannon. Work done includes Maddens Island and Meelick Weir, where tonnes of silt, dead trees and other material have been removed, along with six other areas along the Shannon. Removing pinch points will drop levels on the Callows, benefiting the environment, wildlife and the farming community. I hope that report will be with me in the not-too-distant future.