Farmers on the Shannon callows alarmed over the rising water levels

Air Corps handout photo of the river Suck at Ballinasloe after a previous hit the area. Photo: Airman Jamie Martin/Air Corps/PA Wire.
Air Corps handout photo of the river Suck at Ballinasloe after a previous hit the area. Photo: Airman Jamie Martin/Air Corps/PA Wire.
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Farmers on the Shannon callows have raised concerns over the rising water levels on the river.

South Roscommon Cllr John Keogh said he has received a number of representations from farmers in the Clonown area over the rising water level on the River Shannon.

"It is now at a point where it has breached its banks in locations.

"Farmers along the callows in Clonown have fertilized their lands in anticipation of cutting winter fodder.

"This fodder (not to mention the expensive fertilizer) is now in jeopardy.

He questioned Minister for State with responsibility for  Kevin Boxer Moran

to explain why there has been such a rise in the level of the Shannon.

"Is the water being held back? If so, why is that the case and why are these farmers livelihoods being jeopardized like this," he asked.

He said immediate action needs to be taken to address this issue for the farmers before the problem escalates in a fodder crisis for the farmers.

The OPW has highlighted that the River Shannon has a very low gradient over most of its course.

A number of weirs were constructed along the river in the 1840s as part of the Shannon Navigation to make it navigable. These only provide control at low flows, when they prevent the water level falling below the navigation level.

It says in summer, lower rainfall, increased temperatures and increased plant growth reduce the amount of water entering the river, however in periods of heavier rains, especially when combined with cooler temperatures, flooding of the Shannon callows is possible.

The most recent significant summer flood occurred in 2012, although there was late flooding in March 2016 and again in March this year, following a relatively dry winter. This caused higher water levels on the river and sluices downstream were opened.

The OPW said when river levels downstream of Athlone start to lead to waterlogging in the callows, the sluices at Athlone are closed. This it says was carried out recently, on June 6.

"When the level in the river is low, Waterways Ireland open and close sluices to maintain the river at the target navigation level. On the 1st June, 5 of 30 sluices downstream of Banagher were open.

"By the morning of the 5th June 8 were open and a further 10 were opened that day. By the 11th June, all 30 sluices were open," it said.

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