Troubled Northern Ireland Water has been accused of wasting more than half-a-million pounds of taxpayers’ money because a major water mains project is having to be replaced after less than three years.
NI Water has confirmed that it is upgrading a section of the water main it laid and that this work will cost £600,000.
Limavady farmers have complained that the work involves digging up land on which they have sown crops. Two-and-a-half years ago NI Water laid new water mains to and from the Moyse reservoir to deal with the growing population in the towns and villages near Limavady.
However, it has emerged that the pipes laid were the wrong size and are currently being replaced, along with valves and pumps.
Limavady councillor Leslie Cubitt said the current work should not have been necessary.
He said: “NI Water can dress this up any way they like but the reality is they are fixing a job they didn't do right two-and-a-half years ago and it is nothing short of total incompetency.
“Their engineers should have worked out what size of pipe they needed to get the right pressure at that time and we would all be better off; the taxpayers would not be footing this £600,000 bill and the farmers here would not have to had these trenches ploughed through their crops which is costing them thousands and thousands.”
One of the farmers, Tommy Simpson, said he is unsure whether he will get any compensation for his lost crops.
He said: “When NI Water came here two-and-a-half years ago we all had to sign indemnity forms allowing them access to our land at any time for repairs and replacement work, so we don't know if we will even be compensated for the crops we have lost.”
A spokeswoman for NI Water said: “NI Water can confirm that a new trunk water main was laid in the Carlaragh Road area of Limavady two to three years ago.”
She added: “Currently, NI Water is upgrading a section of this water main to ensure enhanced security of supplies for customers in the Limavady and Londonderry areas.
“The decision to upgrade this section of water main, which represents an investment of approximately £600,000 by NI Water, was undertaken following an appraisal process to ensure value for money and efficiencies in future running costs.”