Laois county Council staff in action at Mountmellick
The level of the River Barrow has risen sharply at an important measuring point near Mountmellick which can warn of potential flooding.
The Office of Public Works (OPW) monitors river levels in realtime on rivers around Ireland. It launched a specific levels monitoring system for Mountmellick in the wake of the 2017 floods.
The latest data at the Borness measuring location shows that the Barrow rose from a level of almost 0.7 metres at 1.45 am on Tuesday morning February 23 to nearly 1.8 metres at 4.45 pm on Tuesday evening.
The river has not risen to flood level but the rapid increase in the level is of concern.
So far this year Barrow peaked at 2.1 metres at the Borness on February 2. The average flood level is 2.25 metres at the Borness.
The highest level recorded was on November 23 in 2017 when it exceeded 2.7 metres. This resulted in the River Owenass bursting its banks in the Laois town causing extensive flooding.
The River Owenass flows through Mountmellick and enters the Barrow at the Borness. The source of both rivers is in the Slieve Bloom Mountains.
A flood defence system is planned for Mountmellick. The OPW gave an update in February to the Leinster Express. It said measuring levels was a key factor in determining what is needed to prevent a repeat of 2017.
"Laois County Council, in partnership with the Office of Public Works (OPW), is working on the design for a flood relief scheme to protect Mountmellick against flooding. Laois County Council and the Office of Public Works have appointed Engineering and Environmental consultants to design the scheme and carry out environmental and economic assessments.
"A number of surveys have been commissioned for this project. One key element is recording river levels and flows to accurately estimate peak flows, a key input of the design process. Monitoring stations were established at Stations Chapel Street (Stn.14120) and Manor Road (Stn.14121) in June 2019 in support of the proposed flood relief scheme for Mountmellick," it said.
The OPW added that it is working in partnership with Laois and Offaly County Councils on flood relief schemes in Portarlington, Clonaslee and Rahan. The OPW also maintains the Tullamore Flood Relief Scheme and the Brosna and Boyne Catchment Drainage Schemes in County Offaly. The County Councils maintain a number of Drainage Districts, the largest of these is the Barrow Drainage District. Information with regard to these schemes is available from the www.floodinfo.ie website.
The water levels are published on the OPW https://waterlevel.ie