THE ESB has revealed that water continued to be released from Ardnacrusha and Partneen Weir on the day of Limerick’s worst floods, but claims that the level of water discharged was “inconsequential”in comparison to the “overwhelming volume” of tidal water.
In response to queries from the Limerick Leader, the ESB stressed that the worst flooding the city has ever witnessed on Saturday last was caused by tidal flooding, and was not as a result of water released from both of their stations in Co Clare.
“ESB has been continuously releasing water at Parteen Weir since Christmas Day. ESB made no sudden changes to its discharge at Parteen Weir last week,” it said in a statement to the Leader.
In relation to the unprecedented level of flooding last week, which has destroyed up to 300 homes in the city’s northside, the ESB said: The effect of the water flowing down the Shannon, by comparison to the overwhelming volume of tidal water, was inconsequential and in real terms, had no impact on the extent of flooding”.
Some 548 cubic metres of water was released per second from both stations on Friday last, the day before the floods, and this volume was released continuously throughout the day.
On the day of the floods, this was reduced to 538 cubic metres per second throughout the day, with 368 cum/sec coming from Ardnacrusha, and the remainder, 170 cum/sec, coming from Parteen Weir.
“In the areas flooded in Limerick city last Saturday, the record peak level was determined by the high astronomical tide level, the tidal surge, south-westerly winds and the low pressure”, the ESB said.
Mayor of Limerick, Cllr Kathleen Leddin, also said she believed that the ESB “had no hand, act or part in the flooding” which led to the evacuation of at least 60 people, many of whom do not kow when they will be able to return to their homes.
Labour city councillor Tom Shortt had also queried whether the floods were “man made”.
“Any discussion or analysis of the unprecedented flooding in the city on Saturday must first establish the precise role played by the ESB,” he said.
“Was the disaster and the extensive suffering man made? The city has seen surges on the river before caused by high spring tides swelled by strong south westerly winds but in living memory never flooding like this”.
He queried whether the ESB “miscalculated and got it wrong over the past week” in terms of the volume of water released.
The ESB said they do “everything within its power to alleviate the worst effects of flooding along the entire Shannon.”
“In times of flood, it is ESB policy that the safe discharge of flood waters takes precedence over the generation of electricity.”
“ESB is working in close co-operation with all the stakeholders along the Shannon including the various councils such as Limerick City Council, Limerick County Council and Clare County Council, Waterways Ireland, IFA and OPW and is in constant communication with them.”
Further high tides are expected in Limerick this Wednesday night.