Northern Ireland Water (NIW), which has been in the firing line as a result of its handling of disruptions to the water supply over Christmas, is the Government-owned trading company with responsibility for the provision of water and sewerage services throughout Northern Ireland.
It receives its revenue partly through charges levied on non-domestic business customers along with an operating subsidy in lieu of domestic charges received from the Department of Regional Development (DRD).
The operating subsidy in 2009-10 was £257m compared to £250m in the previous year.
Nominally, this approximates to the revenue that would be needed from any water charges on domestic households, whether raised as specific charges or attributed as a contribution from regional rates.
In conventional terms, NIW is financed to show acceptable |levels of operating and pre-tax profits.
The arrangements with DRD are set so that the financial results give some guidance on the ability of NIW to trade profitably in the unusual situation where the revenue income is set to give a challenge to the internal|management systems.
Only in one of the last three years, 2007-8, has DRD as shareholder received a dividend of £35m on the investment.