Fermanagh Floodgates Replaced, Thanks To ESB

Cash from the Republic of Ireland's Electricity Supply Board (ESB) - which generates hydro-electric power from Lough Erne after it leaves Northern Ireland at Belleek - has been used to provide a overdue update on flood protection in Co Fermanagh.

The only lock on the whole Erne system has been replaced at Portora in Enniskillen along with the giant sluice gates that have controlled the waters of Lough Erne for more than half a century.

The huge flood protection barriers in Enniskillen manage the flow between the upper and lower sections of the waterway - although the lock gates are mostly left open to allow cruisers and other vessels up and down - they can be closed and the barrier raised when required by water levels.

This is often to facilitate the ESB at their station at Cathaleen Falls near Ballyshannon in Co Donegal where the Assaroe Lake has been formed by dams constructed across the Erne River as it flows towards the Atlantic at Ballyshannon.

Work commenced on the long established hydro-electric power stations at Cathaleens Falls in 1946.

Building the two dams involved major construction and excavation work and was completed in the early 1950s.

Although the famed Assaroe Falls and a distinctive 14-arch bridge disappeared as a result of the work, a salmon hatchery at the power station has since produced smolts to stock the entire Erne and salmon runs.

Now, the four, new 13 tonne gates have now taken their place at the Portora Castle site, just outside the main part of Enniskillen.

Stephen Dawson, from the Northern Ireland Rivers Agency, saying the old gates "had reached the end of their useful life".

"We are delighted the refurbishment has gone according to plan. We expect the new gates to last at least for another 50 years," he said, noting that the complex replacement project took four months to complete.


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