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Leaks in Northern Ireland's water system cost £5m a year

Northern Ireland's water system is leaking 181 million litres a day at a cost of an estimated £5m each year, a new report has confirmed.

The study by the Comptroller and Auditor General Kieran Donnelly for the Assembly examined the performance of the Government-owned company Northern Ireland Water.

And while the quality of drinking water was shown to be improving, coming close to matching European standards and to matching levels in England and Wales, it was noted that the absence of water charging meant there was less money to invest in the system, despite funding from the Department for Regional Development (DRD).

The report found: “Reported leakage levels have reduced steadily since 2001 but improvements to measurement in 2008 indicated that the level was higher than previously thought at 181 million litres a day.

“The department estimated that leakage is costing around £5m a year. Water companies are not expected to fix all leaks but rather to reduce leakage to an economic level where it would cost more to fix leaks than to produce more water.

“NI Water does not have an accurate measure of the economic level of leakage (ELL) for Northern Ireland, making it difficult to measure performance. A new ELL figure is expected in 2011.”

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