Calls for man made lake in County Limerick to be decommissioned to prevent flood

Norma Prendiville


Norma Prendiville

Taken on the night of November 11 last, this picture shows the flood coming down the hill towards the Shannon

Taken on the night of November 11 last, this picture shows the flood coming down the hill towards the Shannon

DECOMMISSIONING a man-made lake high above Foynes could be the best or maybe the only way to avoid a recurrence of last November’s flood which devastated the Foynes Flying Boat and Maritime Museum.

The suggestion came from Mayor Stephen Keary when he and other councillors from the Adare Rathkeale Municipal District discussed the findings of the  investigation into the flooding which took place last November 11.

The flood occurred, councillors were told, when an unprecedented volume of water from the man-made lake flowed from the lake’s one outlet down towards Marine Cove Rd but the culvert was unable to take the volume of water  and overflowed. The water flowed down the hill, surrounding the Shannon Foynes Port Company’s building on the N69 and flooding the nearby museum to a height of half a metre or so.

“Can the lake be decommissioned, rather than leave it as a major threat,” Cllr Keary asked, arguing  that a specialist hydrologist report was necessary to examine the entire drainage around the lake. And he expressed concern about properties in the vicinity and the impact of the flood on their ability to secure insurance.

Cllr Richard O’Donoghue agreed that decommissioning was a “far better option” and supported the idea of a hydrologist’s report.

But councillors were unhappy that none of the recommendations in the report had yet been implemented. Why hasn’t a warning system been put in, Cllr Adam Teskey asked. “There has been plenty rain since.”

Outlining the details of the report, senior executive engineer Kevin Murphy described the events of November 11, what measures were taken on the night and the steps involved in the  investigation carried out afterwards.

The lake, he explained, had been put in place many years ago to provide water in case of fire emergency at the port and was not to be confused with the drinking water reservoir a short distance away. The lake is  maintained by the port company, Mr Murphy said but there is no monitoring carried out. The council inspects the culvert every week, he added.

The investigation concluded that a combination of factors had contributed to the severity of the flood. One was the deforestation of the area around the lake which had taken place over the past few years.

Other factors were the lack of monitoring and the absence of a  mechanism to let off water over a certain level. Pipe restrictions on the culvert also contributed. The culvert it was discovered is crossed by a water main and a number of smaller pipes and this, Mr Murphy said, would have a considerable influence on the capacity of the culvert.

The report recommended the installation of a monitoring system on the lake, the closing off of the rear of the port company offices and maintaining a supply  of sandbags in Foynes.

Long term, the recommendations include installing a controlled discharge system at the lake and replanting the land. Removing or diverting the crossing pipes in the culvert was also recommended. “Alternatively, a new, larger culvert on Marine Cove Rd could be built,” Mr Murphy said.

Foynes has seen a number of floods, Cllr Kevin Sheahan said, but as far as he knew, none up to now had been caused by water from the lake. And he questioned whether the lake was still necessary given the access now to the Shannon Estuary water scheme.

Councillors agreed that a hydrologist’s report should be sought. It was also agreed that further discussions should take place with the Shannon Foynes Port Company.