A cohesive and co-ordinated approach is of the essence to ensure maintenance of the River Shannon as flood waters continue to detrimentally impact upon the lives of communities dwelling in close proximity to the waterway.
Formally known as the Mid Shannon Flood Relief Group, the Save Our Shannon organisation is seeking prompt redress pertaining to the situation and is imploring upon local and national politicians to implement plans to alleviate the consistent concerns of residents within the Callows region of the river who have been subjected to rising flood waters during the summer season.
Speaking to the Athlone Advertiser this week, a spokesperson for the Save Our Shannon organisation, stated that their cause will be “pursued relentlessly” in the coming times as residents of the Callows fear further inevitable flooding issues as the winter season approaches. Rising waters are the source of much environmental concern within the location also.
“For the second occasion in two consecutive years flooding has come to the Shannon Callows during this summer season. The flood waters have spread over the fields used by farmers for hay and silage and for grazing their animals. The rising flood has destroyed persons’ livelihoods and is causing damage to the habitats of wild life, particularly to various varieties of wading birds that nest in the Callows. Summer flooding has already driven the corncrake from our area and now the curlew is under threat.
“Residents, business owners and farmers within the vicinity of the Callows region are looking on with trepidation at the rising waters of our longest river. As happened last year, the land is now totally saturated and if more storms follow Ellen and Francis then a major winter flood is inevitable, similar to the recent flood in February of this year which decimated homes, farm buildings, roads and bridges,” the spokesperson stressed.
The spokesperson noted that those residing close to the Shannon from Athlone to Meelick understand why this flooding is constantly happening and this is due to a number of reasons.
“The river is choked with silt islands, overhanging trees, weeds and vegetation. Constrictions or pinch points have slowed the flow of the river and caused flood waters to spread over the land adjoining the river. Little or no maintenance of the river has been sustained by the State, Government agencies have not implemented a co-ordinated plan to carry out river maintenance, no single authority is in charge of the various agencies involved with the Shannon, while the ESB and Waterways Ireland do not appear to have a cohesive plan to release water at sluices/weirs in Lough Allen, Athlone, Meelick and Parteen Villa in time to lower levels of water in the Shannon ahead of predicted torrential rain,” the spokesperson detailed.
The spokesperson noted the effect which climate change is having upon the seasons with rising flood waters a concern for the duration of the calendar year.
“We have had major flooding along the Shannon in November 2009, in December 2015, January 2016 an February 2020. Various elected representatives have visited these flooded areas and promised to do their utmost to relieve the hardship endured by people living in the vicinity of the river.
“To date, such promises have not materialised as flooding persists with no action being taken to remove the constrictions to the flow of the water in the main channel of the river.
“While work has been done to prevent flooding in various towns along the river with the erection of flood defence measures, only one tiny pinch point has been removed and that was not in the main channel of the waterway,” the spokesperson asserted.
The spokesperson noted the flooding fear which continually exists among those particular residents of the Shannon Callows region as the onset of winter is certain to bring further dwelling hardship.
“How are the lives of people and families going to be affected? Those residing locally in Golden Island, Carrickobrien, Clonbonny, Clonown and Barrymore must prepare for the consequences of climate change and prepare for the damage that excess water within the River Shannon will inevitably cause.
“After the flood of 2009 promises were made that remedial works would be completed. CFRAMS was established to examine the causes and make recommendations on flood relief measures. These recommendations pertain mainly to urban areas but contain very few proposals, if any, for improving the conveyancing of water in the River Shannon. After the floods of December 2015 and January 2016 further promises were made by Government ministers,” the spokesperson remarked.
The spokesperson stated that upon the conclusion of meetings hosted in Athlone and Banagher in February of this year commitments were afforded by numerous elected representatives to campaign for a cohesive and co-ordinated approach towards the maintenance of the River Shannon.
“Elected representatives offered their support towards the creation of a single authority with total control of the management, maintenance and navigation levels of the Shannon and the removal of pinch points in the river to aid the flow of water in times of flooding.
“It is now paramount that all elected representatives act immediately in this cause and implement plans for preventing continual flooding along the River Shannon. They must act on our behalf, represent our views, provide us with answers and live up their promises.
“We need our elected representatives to stand up for us in our time of need as the alternative is extremely bleak,” the spokesperson concluded.