Minister for the Office of Public Works, Kevin “Boxer” Moran, has moved to assure the people of Athlone that he and his Department are doing everything they can to combat the high water levels recorded on the River Shannon.
Water levels on the river are now 2.5ft higher than they were on the lead up to the last major flooding event the town experienced in 2015/2016.
Minister Moran says that while he acknowledges the levels are high, everything that can be done is being done to ensure there is no repeat of the flooding that took place two years ago.
“People have been contacting me for the last few days concerned that the water levels of the Shannon are too high,” Minister Moran said. “They are asking me why the gates are not open in Athlone, but this is a delicate balancing act that we are playing. If we open the gates in Athlone we could flood the whole of Golden Island, the Callows, everything down along and into peoples’ homes.
“So, trust me when I say we have gates open everywhere bar Athlone. We are pumping, last time I looked, 178 cubic metres between Ardnacrusha and Pateen Weir through the system. That’s way up on what it was this time last year. People are saying the water is two and a half foot higher than 2015/2016, but you cannot compare two years ago to today.
“Winds play a big factor, storms play a big part, and rainfall. Yes, we are having rainfall, but we are not having the same heavy downpours for days and weeks on end. I can’t promise it won’t come, but I can say that all of the agencies involved are working hard and working together to make sure everything that can be done will be done.”
Minister Moran added that he met with Met Éireann last week and discussed the progress made on the establishment of a national flood warning system. He said they are a year and a half into that process and are now out to tender to employ staff. “It is a slow process, but it is moving along now,” he commented.