Heavy rain and increased water inflows have prompted the Electricity Supply Board (ESB) in Ireland to alter operations at its storage facilities. As flood waters along the River Shannon continued to rise ESB had to steadily increase flow down the old River Shannon. Flows downstream of Parteen Weir were increased to 375m3/sec on 8 December from 315m3/sec the day before. The utility warned that this is likely to lead to associated flooding of roads, land and property downstream. ESB said it is closely monitoring the situation and is in communication with the local authorities and response agencies in accordance with normal operating procedures.
ESB is also currently fighting a legal battle with regards to previous dam operations during flooding in 2009. Unprecedented rainfall in November 2009 prompted inflows into the Lee catchment which are still the highest since records began. The presence of the reservoirs and the manner in which the dams was operated meant that, although widespread flooding did occur downstream of Inniscarra, it was less than otherwise might have been.
However ESB was criticised for the manner in which it had operated the dams and a High Court case brought by University College Cork ruled that the ESB was 60% liable for the estimated €20M worth of damage caused to university property downstream.
In consultation with its legal advisors ESB has since decided to appeal the judgement and applauded its staff for their management of the Lee dams. ESB Chief Executive Pat O'Doherty said that the main priority during the event was for the safety of people downstream and that dam operation had complied with best international practice and statutory duties. Furthermore he believes his staff had worked tirelessly to help protect Cork from the worst of the flooding.