As progressive works continue on the Athlone Flood Alleviation Scheme, further positive news emanated this week with local Minister of State, Kevin 'Boxer' Moran, confirming that Government support of €7m has been secured to advance a planned programme of relevant maintenance works.
Such works will include the removal of constrictions or ‘pinch points’ on the bed of the River Shannon at the Callows Region between Athlone and Meelick Weir to improve the conveyancing of the River Shannon.
"This investment as well as helping to manage flooding can support the tourism, navigation and agricultural sectors for this region. Studies undertaken by the Shannon Flood Risk State Agency Co-ordination Working Group, identified the conveyancing benefits from removing these restrictions and some strategic maintenance of the upper and middle Shannon to help halt further deterioration.
"The completed works, estimated at €7m, will be met from the Office of Public Works (OPW ) existing voted funds and includes the costs for the full environmental assessments required to progress the works to the planning process to obtain consent to proceed. Works will also be informed by public consultation," Minister Moran commented.
The Flood Risk Management Plans launched in May 2018 by the Minister of State with An Taoiseach Mr. Leo Varadkar TD, will protect 95 percent of properties at significant risk of flooding along the Shannon by the delivery of 47 flood relief schemes during the forthcoming decade.
"Today, work by the OPW and local authorities, to protect 80 percent of these properties is complete or underway. The Shannon Group is building on both these plans and the existing activities by State Agencies to explore and introduce other co-ordinated flood risk solutions that may have some benefit.
"The Group has already introduced a pilot to reduce lake levels in Lough Allen and some targeted maintenance. The Shannon Group expects to complete a further study in 2020 to identify the cause, rate and degree of restriction over time in the Lower Shannon that may inform further strategic maintenance plans for the area," Deputy Moran remarked.
Welcoming the significant investment, Fianna Fail TD for Roscommon/Galway Eugene Murphy, noted that the sum afforded would alleviate the ongoing severe flooding issues which consistently effect the region.
“This is a significant investment which will help address ongoing local flooding issues. I just hope that we actually see this funding coming to fruition and that it won’t be washed away with all the other election promises that are to come.
“I have been in contact with Minister Boxer Moran who informed me of this most welcome investment allocation to address a number of serious pinch points on the River Shannon. This funding will help address a number of bottlenecks along the River Shannon and the impact of flooding after heavy rainfall.
"As the Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on the OPW and Flood Relief, I have worked in conjunction with Minister Moran on a number of projects to ensure that ongoing flooding problems were addressed along the River Shannon and River Suck catchments.
“The €7m in funding will help tackle a series of pinch points from Athlone to Meelick, which will reduce the scale of flooding experienced along the banks of the Shannon within the Callows as well as addressing severe flooding south of the town of Ballinasloe on the River Suck.
"I believe this investment will have a significant impact over time on the threat of flooding within our area and I sincerely hope that it comes to fruition and is not washed down the river with other election promises,” Deputy Murphy emphasised.