Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 April 2014

800 Northern Ireland homes still without water

Cliodhna Maguire aged 6 from Belfast , takes a drink of water from a water tap at Olympia

The number of houses without water in Northern Ireland is down to 799.



The main affected areas are parts of Cookstown, Dungannon, Newry and Warrenpoint. Some 500 staff are dealing with those properties.

Work will continue to restore supply to those caught up in the burst pipes crisis, some of who have been without running water for almost two weeks.

Over the weekend an additional 60,000 homes were cut off temporarily to allow depleted reservoirs to refill. Some progress was made yesterday reconnecting properties left without any water, with more than 4,300 getting supply back.

But with water still pouring out of leaks in the system, under-fire Government-owned utility Northern Ireland Water (NIW) extended its on/off rotation system to other homes overnight in order to replenish reservoirs.

This is despite earlier expressing hope that the rotation would soon be discontinued.

While 500 NIW staff battled round the clock to restore supplies to the region's crippled system, vandals were yesterday blamed for emptying out almost 5,000 gallons of water from temporary tanks in one of the badly hit areas in Coalisland, Co Tyrone.

People arriving at bowsers at the Gortgonis Park centre to collect drinking water yesterday morning found that the valves had been opened overnight.

NIW replaced the tanks on Saturday afternoon.

Arctic weather conditions, followed by a sudden thaw, caused large numbers of burst pipes in buildings and in the mains supply, draining unprecedented amounts of water from the system.

Louth County Council in the Republic of Ireland has agreed to supply water from its treatment plant in Dundalk to its neighbouring local authority across the border in Newry and Mourne.."

The development came as the Scottish Executive continued to supply Northern Ireland with thousands of litres of bottled water to help cope with the crisis.While NIW has responsibility for leaking pipes on the main system, that responsibility ends when the supply enters properties.

However, many of the leaks are understood to be within unoccupied homes and businesses and NIW has urged customers to check their properties and repair any bursts as soon as possible.

Stormont's Regional Development Minister Conor Murphy has set up an independent probe to examine the causes of the crisis, but insisted that restoring water supplies to homes and businesses remained the first priority.

It is expected that water supplies will continue to be constrained for a limited period.

This will affect no more than 45,000 properties across the east of Northern Ireland. Reservoir levels in the greater Belfast area remain low. The focus is on continuing to build up water supplies in the Belfast reservoirs ahead of Tuesday's return to work.

With schools due to return this week and next, NI Water is liaising closely with the Department of Education and local Education and Library Boards.

A spokesman for the water company said: "We are confident there will be very few, if any, schools affected due to interruptions on the main water supply system.

"However, many schools will have suffered damage to their internal infrastructure and we understand these are currently being located and repaired."



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