With water levels at all time low, now is an opportune time to clean out the O’Garney River ahead of potential winter flooding, says Fine Gael councillor, John Crowe.
Cllr John Crowe is calling on the OPW to take advantage of the record low water levels on the O’Garney River to carry out works to mitigate against any potential winter flooding in Sixmilebridge.
Will 2018 be remembered as one of Ireland’s hottest summers, or are we experiencing another severe weather event leading to regular heatwaves and consequent drought?
On June 28th Shannon had its highest temperature since 1976 when the thermometer rose to 32 degrees, close to the 1887 record 33 degrees established at Kilkenny Castle.
Rural areas are suffering most as wells dried up leaving homes without a water supply while rivers are reduced to a trickle.
A country-wide hosepipe ban has left gardens and grasslands scorched to the extent that in County Meath archaeologists discovered the outline of a 5,000-year-old enclosure close to the famous Newgrange passage tomb on the Brú na Bóinne world heritage site.
This year’s sweltering heat is a global phenomenon extending across the northern hemisphere from our own normally mild climate. through the Middle East and to California on America’s east coast. Algeria has recorded temperatures of 51.3 degrees, higher than Africa’s previous record set in 1961 in Morocco.
As records are broken by global warming it is becoming clearer that our planet is getting hotter as human activity causes greenhouse gas concentrations to increase.
Closer to home, Cllr John Crowe finds that he is now able to walk along the O’Garney River close to his Sixmilebridge home as water levels are at an all-time low. The Crowe family has operated a business in the village for the last 130 years and John has never seen anything like this before.
However, he also remembers the other extreme on the river, particularly during the 1990s when parts of the village and local graveyard flooded and again in 2009 when torrential rains caused cracks to appear in the bridge.
At that time the river was so high that the water almost covered Shane Gilmore’s sculpture, The Miller Returns. In the context of saving for a rainy day, Cllr Crowe believes that the OPW must take advantage of the low water levels to clear the river of silt and debris so as to avoid winter flooding this year.
At the recent meeting of Shannon Municipal District, he noted that the last time the O’Garney River was given a major dredging, widening and cleaning job was more than ten years ago.
Subsequently, the OPW was supposed to carry out regular maintenance of the river every three years but that hasn’t happened.
Cllr Crowe said that for two years or more water levels have been rising due to overgrown vegetation and debris blocking the flow of the river.
Unless the necessary works are carried out soon, he believes another disaster could well occur given the severe weather events now being experienced and he doesn’t want to see the bridge closed again as happened in 2009.
Cllr Crowe believes that the same thing could potentially happen again this year. However with the heatwave at present a person can actually walk across the river, making it an opportune time for the OPW to get the work done.
“I don’t want to be back here in January or February saying I told you so when this is the time to do it,” said Cllr Crowe.