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Connacht Tribune

Weekend weather sorts drought but not drinking supplies



A heavier than expected pulse of rain that hit the West last weekend eased some of the drought and growth problems on farms – but it had little or no impact on dwindling water supplies.

The Met Éireann weather station in Athenry recorded its heaviest day of rainfall in over two months on Sunday last when 16.5mms or 0.65 inches of precipitation fell over a 24-hour period.

The cumulative rainfall total for last Saturday, Sunday and Monday at the Athenry station was 22.9mms (close to an inch) and almost as much as we got for the entire month of June (25.2mms.)

However, Irish Water warned this week that it would take ‘sustained rainfall over many weeks’ to replenish raw water levels in rivers, lakes, ground sources and in reservoirs.

The water crisis is getting more serious by the day for the Aran Islands with Irish Water warning last weekend that their volume of stored rainfall would only last for just over another two weeks.

“Demand for treated water on Inishmore is extremely high at 580 cubic metres per day and there is only enough volume of stored water on the island to supply for 17 days. The boreholes that supplement supply are now in danger of being exhausted,” Irish Water state.

If the drought continues, Irish Water warn that afternoon restrictions of supply are ‘likely to be introduced’ on Irishmore and Inisheer on top of the current night-time restrictions that apply – 8pm to 8am daily.

“Water usage on Inishmore has increased in the past 28 days [now in the peak of the Summer tourist season], although leak repairs have gone some way to reduce the level of increase in demand. Reservoir levels are giving cause for very serious concern,” say Irish Water.

Kate Gannon, Corporate Affairs Manager with Irish Water, said that the appeal to conserve water applied to every household and outlet across the country.

“We know for example that the vast majority of people are supporting the hosepipe ban but we do have reports of people being in contravention of it.

“We again appeal to those people to comply with these essential minimum measures to safeguard our water supplies,” she said.

Most weather recording outlets across the county last weekend reported on higher than predicted levels of rainfall and especially so on Sunday.

While Athenry recorded the heaviest rainfall of nearly all the West of Ireland stations there were also significant falls in Galway city (18.6mms.), Mount Dillon, Roscommon (17.5mms.) and Claremorris (10.3mms.) Weekend rainfall at Mace Head in South Connemara was relatively low at 9mms.

Abbeyknockmoy weather recorder, Brendan Geraghty, told the Connacht Tribune that over the course of last Saturday and Sunday his rainfall reading came in at 0.53 inches (13.5mms), which he said was ‘significant’ in terms of grass growth.

“I suppose the really good thing about the rainfall over the weekend was that it didn’t fall in one heavy downpour which would led to a lot of run-off.

“It came in the form of fairly persistent light rain or drizzle over a period of time which the ground was able to absorb gradually. It certainly was a big help for growth and was very, very welcome,” said Brendan Geraghty.

However, he did point out that the weekend’s rainfall would have absolutely no impact on river water levels as all of it would be absorbed into the soil.

As for the coming week, there seems to be general agreement among all the main forecasters that there will be very little by way of notable rainfall over the 6/7 days.

The only long-term prediction of any worthwhile rainfall is from the (Norwegian) forecast who have guided Friday, July 27, as a day when rainfall amounts could exceed 10mms.

The BBC’s ‘month ahead’ outlook does offer some hope of respite from the drought conditions for more western areas of the UK and Ireland, as the high pressure shifts ever so slowly to the East, over the first two weeks of August.

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Connacht Tribune

Coffins have to brought by tractor over flooded North Galway road



Cllr Declan Geraghty (Ind) and Cllr Peter Keaveney (FG) at the Creggs road out of Glenamaddy where flooding occurs on an annual basis.

Annual flooding on a stretch of road in North Galway requires the necessity for a tractor and trailer to bring the remains of a deceased person from the area to the local cemetery.

This was the claim at a local area meeting when it was demanded that Galway County Council carry out flood relief works on the road near Glenamaddy which is left under several feet of water every winter.

It resulted in Cllr Peter Keaveney tabling a motion at the Ballinasloe Municipal Council meeting that essential drainage works take place along the Roscommon road out of the town now that water levels are low. He wants this carried out within the next two weeks.

During one of the worst winters in recent years, the road was closed for three months and the Fine Gael councillor and agricultural contractor said that he pulled around 20 cars out of the flooded stretch when motorists decided to take the chance of driving through it.

Even in drought conditions, the levels remain incredibly high and this is mainly down to a local turlough that retains water throughout the year.

While he said that Galway County Council officials were extremely helpful, the problem lay with the Office of Public Works who would not allow drainage works as the road is situated in a Special Area of Conservation.

Senior Executive Engineer Damien Mitchell informed the meeting that Galway County Council are in a position to carry out some works but there are certain areas that only the Office of Public Works can drain.

Mr Mitchell said that the best way forward was a co-ordinated approach involving the County Council and the OPW while accepting that there was a major problem with flooding along this road.

In response, Cllr Keaveney said that this was a very acceptable move and added that a joint approach to the flooding in Glenamaddy was required at this stage and particularly with the winter approaching.

Williamstown’s Cllr Declan Geraghty said that residents were living in hell as some of them saw their houses destroyed by rising flood waters near Glenamaddy.

“There are even deceased people being brought by tractor and trailer to be buried which is an absolute disgrace. There is an opportunity to do this now or otherwise we are looking at flooding for the next 10 years.

“People have put everything into their homes only to see them destroyed when it comes to prolonged heavy rainfall.

“There is a solution to this problem and environmental issues should not take precedence,” he added.

The Independent councillor said that raising the level of the road, which leads to Creggs and onto Roscommon, was not the answer to the problem because the levels were so high.

Galway County Council have carried out several surveys of the area around the flooded road and officials told previous meetings that, subject to approval from the OPW, there was an engineering solution possible.

(Photo Cllr Declan Geraghty (Ind) and Cllr Peter Keaveney (FG) at the Creggs road out of Glenamaddy where flooding occurs on an annual basis.)

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Connacht Tribune

Teen arrested over €45,000 cocaine seizure



Gardaí have seized €45,000 of what they believe to be cocaine in Ballinasloe.

Gardaí attached to Ballinasloe Garda Station conducted an intelligence-led operation in the Dunlo Harbour area of the town yesterday.

During the course of this operation a quantity of suspected cocaine, estimated to be worth €45,000, concealed on derelict grounds was seized.

A male in his mid-teens was arrested at the scene and detained at Ballinasloe Garda Station on Sunday.

He has since been released with a file being prepared for the Garda Youth Diversion Office.

The focus of Operation Tara is to disrupt, dismantle and prosecute drug trafficking networks, at all levels.

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Connacht Tribune

Thousands on waiting list for student accommodation in Galway



The student housing crisis is ‘the worst it’s ever been’ – with thousands on waiting lists for rooms; hundreds relying on hostels and friends’ sofas; and countless more facing deferral or dropping out altogether.

The President of NUI Galway’s Students’ Union, Róisín Nic Lochlainn, told the Connacht Tribune that students had been left in a desperate situation, as she called for mass protests to have the issue addressed.

According to Ms Nic Lochlainn, 3,000 students were currently on the waiting lists for NUIG’s on-campus accommodation – Corrib Village and Goldcrest Village – with around 500 in line for any bed that might come up in the Westwood.

“Gort na Coiribe and Dunaras have told us their waiting lists are well into the hundreds too. I’ve only got to contact two of the hostels around town, but Kinlay and Snoozles have almost 200 students between them already – and they’re expecting more.

“The first years haven’t even arrived yet, and on top of all that, you have people in B&Bs and staying on their friends’ sofas,” said Ms Nic Lochlainn.

Pressure on the student rental market had been building for years, she said, but it had gone off the cliff edge this year as a perfect storm was created by increased student numbers and reduced bed availability.

“[Minister for Further and Higher Education] Simon Harris created new places on courses this year and talked about maximum access to education . . . I’m not sure how that works for students who are homeless.

“Because there weren’t many students around last year, some private landlords might have moved on. There was no new purpose-built accommodation delivered, and then Simon Harris creates new places with no new beds,” said Ms Nic Lochlainn of the causes of this year’s problems.”

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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