Following a relatively dry month of May, weather conditions broke on the 1st June 2012 and the Mulkear catchment has experienced a very unsettled period with heavy and persistent rain and showers for over two and half weeks. As a result the Mulkear River and its tributaries, including the Bilboa, Dead and Newport Rivers, have witnessed some very dramatic summer flood events since early June.
Flood conditions at Annacotty with no weir visible, 8 June 2012 (Image: Kieran Fay)
Mulkear River under normal summer flow conditions (Image: Fran Igoe)
Significant floods were recorded on the 1st to 3rd, 8th to 11th and on the 16th June. The flood conditions have not only been confined to the Lower Mulkear catchment. Many of the rivers and streams in the upper catchment have also experienced significant flood events.
The Clare River at Lackamore, 7 June 2012 (Image: Ruairí Ó Conchúir)
The real visible impact of the continued exceptionally high levels of rainfall has however been in the lower Mulkear, where the 650 square kilometre catchment is focused before it flows into the Shannon River.
Mulkear River, Annacotty, under flood conditions, June 2012 (Image: Glen Wightman)
Mulkear River, Annacotty, normal flow conditions, June 2011 (Image: Ruairí Ó Conchúir)
The increase in water levels has impacted negatively on the work of MulkearLIFE and its project partners, Limerick County Council and the Office of Public Works.
Ballyclogh Weir, exceptional flood conditions, June 2012 (Image: Glen Wightman)
Ballyclogh Weir, normal summer flow conditions, June 2010 (Image: Ruairí Ó Conchúir)
Otter survey work has been cancelled, repair work at Ballyclough weir has been lost, and scheduled catchment wide electrofishing is on pause. The potential for additional disruption in early July 2012, when the project will recommence its instream works, is a real cause of concern to the project team at the moment. Farmers and landowners have also faced great difficulties in getting silage cut and in certain parts of the catchment in having to deal with flood events on their land.
Breach on the Dead River, June 2012 (Image: Ruairí Ó Conchúir)
The flood events on the Dead River have placed additional pressure on previous breaches and has placed landowners and project partners under extra work pressure.
Breach on the Dead River (Image: Ruairí Ó Conchúir)
The unsettled conditions are set to continue this week and next.
Rain falls on a swollen Newport River, 18 June 2012 (Image: Ruairí Ó Conchúir)
On a positive note, significant numbers of fish have been seen passing upstream over the past number of weeks.