Dredging the Shannon will not solve flooding crisis

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ICMSA President John Comer (right) visiting the farm of Paudie Ryan in Springfield, Clonlara . Pic: Sean Curtin Fusionshooters.

by Alan Jacques

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ICMSA President John Comer (right) visiting the farm of Paudie Ryan in Springfield, Clonlara .  Pic: Sean Curtin Fusionshooters.
ICMSA President John Comer (right) visiting the farm of Paudie Ryan in Springfield, Clonlara .
Pic: Sean Curtin Fusionshooters.

DREDGING the River Shannon is not the solution to flooding, according to a statement issued this week by An Taisce.

The environmental group claims that the answer to the flooding crisis should be based on the entire Shannon catchment and must allow for the fact that climate change will increase the problems over coming years.

An Taisce maintain that the best answers will come from the Shannon CFRAM (Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management Study) being undertaken by the OPW, although as yet climate risk is not included.

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One of Ireland’s oldest and largest environmental organisations, An Taisce points out that the CFRAM assessment treats the Shannon on a River Basin basis and will “identify measures and options for managing flood risks, both in local high-risk areas and across the whole study area”.

In a statement this week they explained: “Even with a reprieve in storms Ireland’s swollen rivers and flooded towns and countryside will continue to receive normal levels of winter rainfall. These kinds of extreme flooding events are to be expected according to climate change scientists and indeed they will only increase in frequency in line with increasing global greenhouse gas emissions.”

The group that works to preserve and protect Ireland’s natural and built heritage, maintains that dredging is not always the solution for flooding.

“It may help to sort out a local problem but it may also transport the problem downstream, sometimes from rural to urban areas where the damage on properties and economic activities can be much higher. Therefore the basin-wide approach included in EU policies is essential to find effective and long-term solutions.”

An Taisce first called for a single authority for the Shannon river basin over 30 years ago, and believes it is the basic step required for coherent flood management and now, with climate change, says it is even more urgently required.

“We need to slow down the speed with which water is moving into the Shannon and that will require change on a landscape/catchment basis. The drainage of our bogs and wetlands by Bord na Mona and through the arterial drainage scheme and various forestry programmes over the preceding decades have unquestionably exacerbated this winter’s floods.

We will also need to improve the accuracy with which we can predict the approach of storms and pre-emptively increase flow through Ardnacrusha and Parteen Weir ahead of their arrival.”