A major Irish canoeing fixture starting in Kildare, which attracts international visitors, has been postponed due to water shortages. The annual Liffey Descent has traditionally been held in early September and it was intended to run the race on 8 September.
But low water levels at the ESB Poulaphuca reservoir has prompted the Irish Canoe Union (ICU) to postpone the event to Saturday, 8 October.
Tony Maher, of the Salmon Leap Canoe Club, who commentates at the event each year, said the main attraction of the Liffey Descent over the years has been that it is a ‘big water’ event. Rougher waters for the race, which runs from Straffan to Dublin, is provided by the ESB through the release of water from its upstream reservoirs.
The ESB has told the ICU that reservoir levels are currently at a 35 year low and that having regard to long range weather forecasts and its own water demand forecasts it will not be in a position to release water to facilitate this year’s event in September.
But the company indicated that it will be in a better placed in October to facilitate a release sufficient for the ICU to run a satisfactory event.
Mr. Maher said that left the ICU with a difficult decision – to run the event on 8 September, as originally planned but without a flood, or to postpone it until early October.
Considering the likely impact on future Liffey Descents of running a ‘dry’ race, without the excitement generated by a flood, they decided to postpone.
The ICU said it was in the hands of the ESB.
An ESB spokesperson, Kieran O’Neill, said: “The Poulaphuca reservoir also acts as an important storage reservoir for the supply of water to the Dublin area and it is very important to preserve water supplies for this essential purpose while reservoir levels are low.”