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Flood fears rise around Lough Neagh

Flooding in fields at Reenaderry Road, Derrytresk, near Coalisland
Connla Young

River authorities have been asked to explain why they have not fixed a broken flood control gate on Lough Neagh after a significant rise in water levels in recent weeks.

The huge sluice gate is one of five used to regulate the flow of water from Lough Neagh into the River Bann at Toome.

The gates can be lowered or raised in order to control the levels of the lough, which is Ireland's largest freshwater lake.

It is believed the broken sluice gate has reduced the flow of flood water from the lough by around 20 percent.

The Rivers Agency, now known as DfI (Department for Infrastructure) Rivers, was criticised in January 2016 after homes, businesses and farmland around Lough Neagh were flooded as levels rose to their highest in living memory.

Concerns were raised about the broken flood gate last year after a wet summer and autumn resulting in land around the lough being swamped.

The department is required to control water levels in Lough Neagh within a range of 12.450 metres to 12.600 metres.

However, the department's website last night confirmed the current levels of the Lough are 13.098 metres - 498mm above the statutory maximum.

Heavy rain in recent days combined with melting snow from the Sperrin and other mountain ranges have raised fears that flood waters could rise further on Lough Neagh in the coming days.

Concerns were raised as it emerged that the home of a Co Tyrone man who lives close to Lough Neagh shoreline has been practically cut off by rising flood water.

It is believed the property at Derrytresk regularly floods when the levels of the lough rise.

Assembly member Linda Dillon last night said: “I want to know why the department has not fixed the gate that was broken before the water levels went up.

“I would like them to give an estimated timeline on when it will be fixed.”

A spokeswoman for DFI Rivers said: “The protracted period of snowfall and rain has resulted in the Lough Neagh level rising over the past few weeks.

“Four of the five sluice gates at Toome that regulate the water level in Lough Neagh are venting maximum flows.

“DFI Rivers will be continuing to carefully monitor the water levels on a daily basis.

“A full structural survey of the damaged gate will be carried out when weather conditions and Lough level permits."

Other parts of the north have also been hit by rising flood waters, including around Lough Erne in Co Fermanagh.

Heavy flooding has also been reported in the Newtownbutler area with some roads closed due to rising water.

Lisdead Road and Samsonagh road, which are both near Ross Lough outside Enniskillen were closed yesterday due to flooding

Ballycrummy Road, which is near Armagh city was also closed due to flooding yesterday.

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