‘Imminent risk of farm flooding’ raised in Dáil

The “imminent risk” of homes and farms being flooded in Co. Roscommon was raised in the Dáil yesterday (Thursday, January 14).

Roscommon-Galway TD Denis Naughten noted that three farmyards are under threat, with water levels at Lough Funshinagh 1.75m higher as of January 4 than on the same date last year, which itself saw record water levels.

He added that water in the turlough usually does not reach peak levels until March.

Families that are already being impacted by Covid-19 restrictions are under additional untold psychological pressure as the flood waters outside their doors inch closer and closer.

Noting that the Geological Survey of Ireland (GIS) had previously carried out an assessment of the turlough, Naughten called for a review of that assessment to account for the rapidly rising water levels and the fact that properties that were not considered under threat in the original assessment are under threat now.

While Naughten was Minister for Environment, Roscommon County Council had appointed consultants to analyse Lough Funshinagh, with their report published last September.

That report found that a cost-benefit assessment did not justify the construction of an outlet for the excess water.

However, the situation has changed dramatically since then, with the unimaginable prospect that this year could see all previous flood record levels broken.

“As a result, there must now be a complete review of the original cost-benefit analysis for the overflow pipe from Lough Funshinagh to Lough Ree.”

The Roscommon-Galway TD also called for a voluntary home relocation scheme; a measure to allow farmers in the area to start basic payment entitlements; and a “complete reassessment” of special area of conservation (SAC) designations in light of the permanently flooding state of the area.

In answer to deputy Naughten, Minister of State Ossian Smyth (on behalf of Minister for State with responsibility for the Office of Public Works Patrick O’Donovan, who was unable to attend the Dáil session) said that the Roscommon County Council study found that there was no mitigation measures that would be “economically or environmentally sustainable”.

Minister Smyth added that this study found that the high water levels at Lough Funshinagh, while rare, were “within the naturally occurring range”.

“There is no evidence to suggest that the flooding was due to an abnormal decrease in the outflow rate from the lough other than that due to the possible seasonal variation in the subsurface water level,” he said.

Minster Smyth added that a voluntary farm building relocation scheme was being progressed by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. As well as that, the OPW is set to meet with Roscommon County Council shortly.