Tromode dam-lake is drying out again for a second year. I believe Chris Thomas’s Department of Infrastructure’s flood risk management [policy’s] lack of simple river maintenance is the reason.

It looks like the countdown has started for another fish rescue at Tromode dam-lake as unsurprisingly it’s drying out again!

On October 5, 2022, John Ward, inland fisheries policy manager, wrote: ‘Due to a lack of rainfall and high temperatures, Manx rivers, lakes and ponds were suffering from low water levels.

‘As a result, the Department of the Environment, Food and Agriculture’s fisheries officers conducted a fish rescue in Tromode, Douglas, where over 130 eels were relocated from a receding pond.

‘No other fish were rescued as they would most likely have succumbed to low oxygen levels and died.

‘It is apparent that climate change is having an impact on our river systems and drought periods are more than likely going to require further fish rescue efforts from DEFA fisheries staff in the future.’

If my memory serves me well, in the good old days we used to call this phenomenon ‘the summer time’.

The only difference between then and now, is that the River Glass was regularly maintained by our government’s river teams, the river area in front of the Tromode sluice that feeds the Tromode dam-lake was maintained on a regular basis.

Sadly that ability to provide acceptable public service from this government evaporated a long time ago.

Consequently as a result of the many years of government neglect to maintain the River Glass at Castleward Farm, we now have several huge vegetated gravel bars that have built up in the middle of the River Glass, one of these vegetated gravel bars over recent years has built up in front of the Tromode dam-lake sluice this gravel bar has now totally blocked the river water from flowing into the Tromode dam/lake.

During a River Glass site meeting at Castleward Farm in March 2019 I raised this issue with DEFA inland fisheries manager.

I advised her that this large build up of vegetated gravel and silt at the Tromode dam-lake sluice needed to be removed because it was restricting the free flow of water. Later that month in a letter dated March 29, 2019, she confirmed that she had prevented the removal of this obstruction.

She wrote: ‘The large build-up of vegetated gravel and silt at the Tromode dam sluice entrance was to stay in situation.’

On November 3, 2022, John Ward, inland fisheries policy manager, wrote: ‘In response to your query “do you agree with me that unimpeded, this water flow would have prevented the lake from drying out?” It is something I am unable to assist you with as I am not a hydro-engineer.

‘I would suggest that you seek this advice from someone qualified to provide an answer.

‘Could I suggest the services of the flood risk management team?’

Subsequently I asked Infrastructure Minister Chris Thomas and DEFA Minister Clare Barber, the same question.

On December 27, 2022, Clare Barber wrote: ‘Neither John Ward or I are able to answer your question as we are not qualified in hydro engineering.

‘I would, therefore, reiterate the recommendation that you engage a qualified expert in this area for more information should you feel it necessary.

‘Your comments have been referred into the flood risk management team (as I previously committed to) and it is for them to prioritise their workstreams.

‘DEFA, DoI and Manx Utilities Authority all contribute to the flood risk management team and have expertise that they can utilise as they feel appropriate. I am sorry I am not able to be of further assistance in this matter.’

Matthew Ripley, flood risk management engineer, wrote: ‘Gravel/silt build up in front of Tromode Clucas Lake: this is not a flood risk matter so there are no plans to remove this gravel/ silt build up.’

To our Manx government: It appears that we have lots of very qualified ‘experts’ that work in our government departments unfortunately they are not the correct ‘experts’ that we need to fix the problem of the Tromode dam-lake from drying out, so can you advise the Manx taxpayers.

‘Who is responsible and are they suitably qualified to carryout this work?’

How about anyone ‘expert’ or not in this government, someone anyone just take some responsibility for this mess and start clearing this huge vegetated gravel build up in front of the Tromode dam-lake sluice to allow the river water to flow freely into the Tromode dam-lake?

Or do the Manx Taxpayers just have to wait in hope whilst the DEFA Minister Clare Barber’s inland fisheries team and the DoI Minister Chris Thomas’s flood risk management team sit around all day twiddling their thumbs whilst engaged in their little games of passing the buck onto each other or anyone else that is daft enough to pick up and fix their problems for them, I’ve seen many matters thrown into the long grass before and this is a classic example of that and this government is certainly ‘expert’ in doing just that.

Of course if this hot weather continues then it’s only a matter of time before our DEFA inland fisheries team, will have no other option but to launch another emergency mission to rescue another batch of our wonderful Manx eels!

Please remember everyone those are the very important eels that are fully protected under Manx law?

Alf Caine

Strang Road


Share your views with our readers.

Write to: Opinions, Isle of Man Examiner and Manx Independent, 18 Finch Road, Douglas, IM1 2PT or email:

Don’t forget to include your name, FULL home address and a daytime phone number even if you want to be anonymous in print.

Obviously, we need to be able to verify the identity of everyone whose letter we publish.

We don’t print phone numbers or full addresses and respect anonymity if the author requests it.