Areas on lower Shannon braced for potentially disastrous new flooding

ESB to increase ‘spill’ of water from Parteen Weir as levels reach those seen during 2009 flooding.

The lower Shannon between O’Brien’s Bridge and Limerick is bracing itself for potentially disastrous new flooding as the ESB confirmed it will have to increase the ‘spill’ of water from Parteen Weir.

In recent days, the discharge had been contained at 375 cubic metres per second. It may be increased up to 450 cubic m per second today due to the build-up of water from rainfalls in the Midlands and West last weekend.

The likely spills from Parteen Weir would not be far off those seen in 2009, which resulted in the worst floods in decades.

Crisis meetings involving officials and engineers from Limerick City and County and Clare County Councils were called yesterday afternoon to plan for the worsening levels on the Shannon.

One of the worst-hit areas in the lower Shannon is Springfield, near Clonlara.

Cllr Michael Begley said: “If the flow from Parteen Weir is increased we will be badly hit. Potentially five families may have to be moved from their homes and one family has two children with special needs.”

An ESB spokesperson said last weekend’s fall of rain was “now arriving at Parteen Weir”, adding that the ESB will have to increase the flow into the Shannon as the water has nowhere else to go.

During the floods of 2009, up to 500 cubic m per second was ‘spilt’ into the lower Shannon at Parten Weir.

The ESB can only take a maximum 400 cubic m a second into the canal, which provides water to Ardnacrusha power station.

The remainder of the flow is diverted through six gates at Parteen Weir into the old original line of the Shannon, which goes past O’Brien’s Bridge, Montpellier, Castleconnell, Plassey, and into Limerick City.

Under law, the ESB has to keep the flow into the old river at a minimum of 10 cubic m per second.

The ESB spokesperson said the flow through Parteen Weir, 13km upstream from Parteen village where the Ardnacrusha Power station is located, is usually managed from Turlough Hill, Co Wicklow.

However, during heavy flooding, management of the weir is switched to Ardnacrusha, which decides on the discharges.

Last night, Clare County Council issued a severe flood warning for all of the county in advance of tomorrow’s potential heavy rainfall.

The council said a combination of heavy rainfall (50mm-80mm) along with elevated water levels in waterways, saturated ground, spring tides, and strong winds were likely to result in localised flooding in many areas.

The council said river levels throughout the county are approaching those experienced in November 2009, with weather patterns over the next 48 hours determining whether those levels are likely to be exceeded.

Businesses, householders, and other property owners who have experienced flooding in the past are being urged to operate on the basis of a very high level of alert.

The council said it will operate an emergency helpline tomorrow to accommodate members of the public wishing to report blocked roads and flooding.

If required, a crisis management team will also be established at the county council offices in Ennis.

Clare County Council said updates will be issued through the council website (www.clarecoco.ie), Twitter (@ClareCoCo), Facebook, and its text-alert system during the weekend.

The council said water levels along the lower River Shannon at Clonlara are continuing to rise and are expected to peak on Monday/Tuesday.

The council, Defence Forces, Civil Defence, and Fire Service are continuing to implement flood defence measures and to co-ordinate with local property owners on both sides of the river.

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