Ireland’s winter flood waters should be stored for use in the summer

About 55% of the Netherlands is either under sea level or prone to river flooding, yet even before the invention of electricity, dykes, canals, and windmills were used to control flooding.

In more recent times, huge areas of land have been reclaimed from the sea and wind power still plays a significant role in pumping water to maintain safe water levels.

In Ireland we are fortunate that the vast bulk of our country is well above sea level, and we are fortunate also that rainfall provides a plentiful supply of fresh water for drinking and many other essential purposes.

Yet we persist in building houses and locating businesses in flood plains and wasting and misdirecting vast quantities of fresh water at enormous costs to the taxpayer and damage to homes and businesses.

We are fortunate also that Ireland has a huge low-lying central plain, even if we have irresponsibly destroyed and burned up our valuable bog-lands.

In the 1920s, with limited resources, the Ardnacrusha hydroelectric project harnessed the river Shannon for electricity and amazingly this project is still producing electricity 85 years later.

In this 21st century our engineers, politicians and public servants cannot seem to solve the simple problem of how to direct and store our surplus winter water so that all areas of Ireland will have ample water in the dryer summer months.

This is not rocket science, it is a matter of plumbing, hydraulics and economics, just as the Ardnacrusha scheme was in the 1920s.

We already have two canal systems connecting the east of the country to the Shannon flood plain, above and below Athlone.

Both pass through or very close to the central bogs of Ireland.

Surely it must be possible, and economically hugely beneficial, to transfer the winter flood waters along these canals, using wind-powered pumps where necessary, from the Shannon flood plains to newly created large reservoirs in these bogs, for winter storage and summer water supply in the east of Ireland.

Alternative proposals to effectively dump or propel this very valuable water resource into the sea amount to economic lunacy.

Different solutions will be needed for flooding in areas such as Cork and Kerry, but we need to slow down the movement of water to the sea, not speed it up* as we have been doing for decades.

Edward Horgan




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