Page last updated at 09:59 GMT, Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Lough Erne water at record level during floods

Enniskillen under water
This picture was taken in Enniskillen on Monday by Evan Connolly

The level of Lough Erne is the highest on record after days of heavy rain caused widespread flooding and disruption in County Fermanagh.

The director of the Rivers Agency in the western region, David Porter, said: "It's never been at this height, this exceeds all records."

He added that the Agency was expecting another 20-30mls of rain on Tuesday which may cause more difficulty.

He said water levels were still rising but "the rate has slowed dramatically".

All-time high

Mr Porter explained: "The current Erne system was put in place in the 1950s, with the hydro electric power stations in Ballyshannon and the control structure at Portora, and we have records that go back to 1956 when it became operational."

He said the current level of just over 158 feet was "a new all-time high".

Lough Erne
The water in Lough Erne has reached 158 feet, the highest level on record

The director said his organisation was now concentrating its efforts in the area around a shopping centre and said the were coping with the water, for now at least.

"The Rivers Agency is currently pumping and sandbagging in and around the Erneside shopping centre in order to keep that facility open.

"We're dealing with the water at this moment in time but if there was a dramatic rise we would have to change our approach as it would become beyond our ability to pump.

Saturated ground

Mr Porter said that if the water got any higher, the authorities would have to consider temporarily raising the road above the flood levels.

He said Tuesday's expected rainfall would not normally cause much difficulty, but the problem was, it would fall on ground already saturated.

But in a note of optimism, he added that the Agency was hopeful that the flood was close to its peak.

He said this assessment was based on drier weather forecast for the coming days.

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