Belfast Telegraph

600 homes still without running water after pump fault

By Rebecca Black

Hundreds of homes were still without water last night as major disruption to the supply extended into a second day.

Problems started on Sunday with 10,000 homes in the west of Northern Ireland affected at one point.

By yesterday morning 4,000 homes were still in difficulty, and last night around 600 were affected.

Two schools - Lisbellaw Primary and Tattygar Primary - were unable to open due to the shortages.

The problem is believed to have started with a pump fault at the Killyhevlin water treatment works.

The plant shuts down if there is a problem, but needs to be restarted manually.

Until that happens, stored water is gradually used up.

Nipsa, Unite and GMB union members at NI Water are currently engaged in industrial action that means they will not work out-of-hours. The dispute centres on changes to pensions.

Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy has urged unions to back away from their work to rule action to resolve the supply situation more quickly as households continue to suffer.

NI Water supplied bottled water and yesterday residents were being asked to fill their own containers from a car park in Derrygonnelly, Co Fermanagh. A spokeswoman said it expected to have the situation resolved by last night.

One woman said she had been unable to get her children bathed on Sunday night and had to take Monday off work because their nursery was not able to open.

A farmer said he had been left unable to water a herd of 500 cattle.

Mr Kennedy plans to meet with both management and trade unions this week to discuss the ongoing industrial action.

"There are things that I'm simply not able to effect change in, among them the pensions issue, but NI Water and I are willing to engage seriously with the trade unions and staff, through the Labour Relations Agency, in order that all of these issues can be satisfactorily resolved," he said.

"It is disappointing that there has been an escalation of the industrial action during efforts to find a solution."

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