Belfast Telegraph

Monday 29 December 2014

Stormont executive to meet over Northern Ireland's water crisis

A Northern Ireland Water employee with bottled water supplied by the Scottish government in Belfast
A Northern Ireland Water employee with bottled water supplied by the Scottish government in Belfast
Trevor Haslett, Director of Engineering, Padraic White (middle) Interim Chairman and Laurence MacKenzie, Chief Executive Officer (right) all from Northern Ireland Water speak to the media
Lorries from Scotland, carrying 160,000 litres of bottled water, arrive at Larne harbour
People wait in line at Avoniel leisure centre in east Belfast with empty bottles to get drinking water December 29, 2010.
12 year old Karl Barr from County Antrim loading his family car with the last few crates of bottled water at NI Water in Ballymena
Pacemaker Press 28/12/10 Bottles of water are filled up outside Westland House in North Belfast after homes across Belfast run out Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 28/12/10 Bottles of water are filled up outside Westland House in North Belfast after homes across Belfast run out Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 28/12/10Kelly and Anne Marie Murphy fill up Bottles of water outside Westland House in North Belfast after homes across Belfast run out Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 28/12/10 Bowsers are filled up outside Westland House in North Belfast after homes across Belfast run out, They will be brought to 5 sites across Belfast so people can get water Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 28/12/10 Bowsers are filled up outside Westland House in North Belfast after homes across Belfast run out, They will be brought to 5 sites across Belfast so people can get water Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 28/12/10 Water storage units have run out at Westland House in North Belfast after homes across Belfast run out Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Tempers flare as families queue for the last few crates of bottled water at NI Water in Ballymena
Alan Lewis - PhotopressBelfast.co.uk 28/12/2010Mandatory Credit - Picture by Justin KernoghanFamilies queueing for the last few crates of bottled water at NI Water in Ballymena today. NI Water in Ballymena ran out of bottled water after lunchtime today. The thaw is revealing an unprecedented number of burst water pipes.Thousands of homes and businesses in Northern Ireland are still without water on Tuesday.Northern Ireland Water has said it is dealing with interruptions to supplies across a number of areas as a result of the severe weather and ongoing thaw.An unprecedented number of leaks caused by the thaw have been putting "big pressure" on its systems.NI Water is giving out bottled water but there is growing criticism of the company's performance.
Alan Lewis - PhotopressBelfast.co.uk 28/12/2010Mandatory Credit - Picture by Justin KernoghanFamilies queueing for the last few crates of bottled water at NI Water in Ballymena today. NI Water in Ballymena ran out of bottled water after lunchtime today. The thaw is revealing an unprecedented number of burst water pipes.Thousands of homes and businesses in Northern Ireland are still without water on Tuesday.Northern Ireland Water has said it is dealing with interruptions to supplies across a number of areas as a result of the severe weather and ongoing thaw.An unprecedented number of leaks caused by the thaw have been putting "big pressure" on its systems.NI Water is giving out bottled water but there is growing criticism of the company's performance.
©Press Eye Ltd - Northern Ireland 28th December 2010Northern Ireland water office in Portadown are giving away water to residents from the Armagh area who have been without for the last 24 hours..Stephanie Shaw from Armagh collects some water.Picture Stephen Hamilton /Presseye.com
Alan Lewis - PhotopressBelfast.co.uk 28/12/2010Mandatory Credit - Picture by Justin KernoghanFamilies queueing for the last few crates of bottled water at NI Water in Ballymena today. NI Water in Ballymena ran out of bottled water after lunchtime today. The thaw is revealing an unprecedented number of burst water pipes.Thousands of homes and businesses in Northern Ireland are still without water on Tuesday.Northern Ireland Water has said it is dealing with interruptions to supplies across a number of areas as a result of the severe weather and ongoing thaw.An unprecedented number of leaks caused by the thaw have been putting "big pressure" on its systems.NI Water is giving out bottled water but there is growing criticism of the company's performance.
Queueing up for water are these Coleraine residents at Captain Street were a five hundered year old fountain flows whole year round.PICTURE MARK JAMIESON.
Alan Lewis - PhotopressBelfast.co.uk 28-12-2010Mrs Janet Doran in tears as she talks to Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, after raw sewage had flooded through her home on boxing day at Elmwood Terrace, in Lurgan. The residents of the County Armagh housing estate have expressed anger after the sewage had flooded through their homes saying today that still no-one from NI Water had come to the Shankill estate in Lurgan despite repeated requests for help. Upper Bann MLA John O'Dowd said the response had "not been good enough" and added that he would be asking "serious questions" of the company. NI Water has said it is doing as much it can to help those affected by the "unprecedented" problems. The problem at the row of houses at Elmwood Terrace was caused by overflowing drains unable to cope with the thawing ice.
Alan Lewis - PhotopressBelfast.co.uk 28-12-2010Mrs Janet Doran, (left), and Mrs May Maye discuss their problems after sewage had flooded through their home on boxing day at Elmwood Terrace, in Lurgan. The residents of the County Armagh housing estate have expressed anger after the sewage had flooded through their homes saying today that still no-one from NI Water had come to the Shankill estate in Lurgan despite repeated requests for help. Upper Bann MLA John O'Dowd said the response had "not been good enough" and added that he would be asking "serious questions" of the company. NI Water has said it is doing as much it can to help those affected by the "unprecedented" problems. The problem at the row of houses at Elmwood Terrace was caused by overflowing drains unable to cope with the thawing ice.
Alan Lewis - PhotopressBelfast.co.uk 28-12-2010Mrs May Maye's kitchen after raw sewage had flooded through her home on boxing day at Elmwood Terrace, in Lurgan. The residents of the County Armagh housing estate have expressed anger after the sewage had flooded through their homes saying today that still no-one from NI Water had come to the Shankill estate in Lurgan despite repeated requests for help. Upper Bann MLA John O'Dowd said the response had "not been good enough" and added that he would be asking "serious questions" of the company. NI Water has said it is doing as much it can to help those affected by the "unprecedented" problems. The problem at the row of houses at Elmwood Terrace was caused by overflowing drains unable to cope with the thawing ice.
Alan Lewis - PhotopressBelfast.co.uk 28-12-2010Maurice Magill explains the problems residents like Mrs May Maye, are facing to Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, after raw sewage had flooded through a terrace of homes on boxing day at Elmwood Terrace, in Lurgan. The residents of the County Armagh housing estate have expressed anger after the sewage had flooded through their homes saying today that still no-one from NI Water had come to the Shankill estate in Lurgan despite repeated requests for help. Upper Bann MLA John O'Dowd said the response had "not been good enough" and added that he would be asking "serious questions" of the company. NI Water has said it is doing as much it can to help those affected by the "unprecedented" problems. The problem at the row of houses at Elmwood Terrace was caused by overflowing drains unable to cope with the thawing ice.
Alan Lewis - PhotopressBelfast.co.uk 28-12-2010Mr Arthur Doran with property destroyed in his home after sewage had flooded through it on boxing day at Elmwood Terrace, in Lurgan. The residents of the County Armagh housing estate have expressed anger after the sewage had flooded through their homes saying today that still no-one from NI Water had come to the Shankill estate in Lurgan despite repeated requests for help. Upper Bann MLA John O'Dowd said the response had "not been good enough" and added that he would be asking "serious questions" of the company. NI Water has said it is doing as much it can to help those affected by the "unprecedented" problems. The problem at the row of houses at Elmwood Terrace was caused by overflowing drains unable to cope with the thawing ice.
Alan Lewis - PhotopressBelfast.co.uk 28-12-2010Mrs Janet Doran breaks down in tears as she talks to Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, after raw sewage had flooded through her home on boxing day at Elmwood Terrace, in Lurgan. The residents of the County Armagh housing estate have expressed anger after the sewage had flooded through their homes saying today that still no-one from NI Water had come to the Shankill estate in Lurgan despite repeated requests for help. Upper Bann MLA John O'Dowd said the response had "not been good enough" and added that he would be asking "serious questions" of the company. NI Water has said it is doing as much it can to help those affected by the "unprecedented" problems. The problem at the row of houses at Elmwood Terrace was caused by overflowing drains unable to cope with the thawing ice.
Alan Lewis - PhotopressBelfast.co.uk 28-12-2010Mr Arthur Doran with property destroyed in his home after sewage had flooded through it on boxing day at Elmwood Terrace, in Lurgan. The residents of the County Armagh housing estate have expressed anger after the sewage had flooded through their homes saying today that still no-one from NI Water had come to the Shankill estate in Lurgan despite repeated requests for help. Upper Bann MLA John O'Dowd said the response had "not been good enough" and added that he would be asking "serious questions" of the company. NI Water has said it is doing as much it can to help those affected by the "unprecedented" problems. The problem at the row of houses at Elmwood Terrace was caused by overflowing drains unable to cope with the thawing ice.
Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 28th December 2010. Picture by Matt Mackey/Presseye.com - Belfast.General views from NI Waters Westland base as members of the public come to pick up bottles of water.
Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 28th December 2010. Picture by Matt Mackey/Presseye.com - Belfast.General views from NI Waters Westland base as members of the public come to pick up bottles of water.
Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 28th December 2010. Picture by Matt Mackey/Presseye.com - Belfast.General views from NI Waters Westland base as members of the public come to pick up bottles of water.
Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 28th December 2010. Picture by Matt Mackey/Presseye.com - Belfast.General views from NI Waters Westland base as members of the public come to pick up bottles of water.
Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 28th December 2010. Picture by Matt Mackey/Presseye.com - Belfast.General views from NI Waters Westland base as members of the public come to pick up bottles of water.
Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 28th December 2010. Picture by Matt Mackey/Presseye.com - Belfast.General views from NI Waters Westland base as members of the public come to pick up bottles of water.
Presseye.com - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 28th December 2010. Picture by Matt Mackey/Presseye.com - Belfast.General views from NI Waters Westland base as members of the public come to pick up bottles of water.
Pacemaker Press 28/12/10 Bottles of water are filled up outside Westland House in North Belfast after homes across Belfast run out Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 28/12/10 Water storage units have run out at Westland House in North Belfast after homes across Belfast run out Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 28/12/10Kelly and Anne Marie Murphy fill up Bottles of water outside Westland House in North Belfast after homes across Belfast run out Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 28/12/10 Tesco's in Yorkgate sells out of water due to the high demand with homes across North Belfast out of water Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 28/12/10 Tesco's in Yorkgate sells out of water due to the high demand with homes across North Belfast out of water Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

The Stormont executive is due to meet in emergency session later today as pressure mounts on ministers to sack senior managers of Northern Ireland Water over their handling of the leaking pipes scandal.

First Minister Peter Robinson and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness will take charge of the talks at Stormont Castle after discussions with Secretary of State Owen Paterson, who has been in contact with the Department of Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs (Defra) to see what assistance the Government can provide.

It could be the weekend before all burst pipes are traced and repaired, and in the meantime tens of thousands of customers across Northern Ireland face further disruption to supplies.

Lorryloads of 160,000 litres of bottled water which arrived from Scotland last night are due to be distributed as part of contingency plans to try to ease the plight of so many families, many of whom have been without water since before Christmas.

The possibility of bringing in additional tankers supplied by Defra is one of the measures likely to be discussed at Stormont, but ministers are anxious to bring the emergency to an end before hundreds of schools reopen next week.

The delayed reponse by NIW has caused public outrage and the future of chief executive Laurence McKenzie, who has already admitted serious shortcomings in the company's communications strategy, is expected to be raised as well. The executive is furious with the initial reaction to the emergency and John Dallat, a member of the SDLP at the Stormont Assembly, has called on Mr McKenzie to resign.

Mr Dallat said: "The company is now effectively being run by people who have no experience of water utilities. No one should be in any doubt that this crisis didn't begin with the first snowflake. NIW has been in crisis for a very long time so it should come as no surprise that there was no contingency plan and a complete breakdown in how to manage the situation."

Leisure centres have stayed open to provide showering facilities and some GPs have warned that the crisis over the lack of clean water risks causing a major health alert.

Glynn Roberts, chief executive of the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association, said: "How come other parts of the UK went through similar weather conditions, but haven't suffered the drought we have? Heads should roll because of the disastrous response."

Factfile

  • If you suspect a burst water main, contact NI Waterline on 0845 744 0088.
  • Belfast residents can call the council’s emergency helpline on 0800 707 6965.
  • A list of emergency supply points can be found at www.niwater.com.
  • A list of registered plumbers can be found at www.snipef.co.uk.
  • Check online to see if your area is experiencing alternating water supplies resulting in temporary water loss.
  • Bring your own clean, empty containers to water depots and remember to boil water before use.
  • Check on elderly and infirm neighbours who may be unable to travel to emergency water supply points

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