Belfast Telegraph

NI Water: Essential service still free to public

By Rebecca Black

Northern Ireland Water is a Government-owned company.

It was formerly an executive agency called the Northern Ireland Water Service within the Department for Regional Development.

In 2007 it became NI Water and is funded by DRD. Similar to Translink, it is run by a board, which answers to DRD.

It supplies 560 million litres of clean water a day for our 1.8m population as well as treating 320m litres of wastewater every day.

This requires a huge system of pipes, pumping stations, water and wastewater treatment works and reservoirs - there are 26,700km of watermains and 15,200km of sewers in Northern Ireland.

On its website, NI Water says by 2020 it plans to have invested £3bn into its aged infrastructure to reduce leakage levels, lower the threats of flooding, and improve water and wastewater quality.

Its assets include Silent Valley reservoir, and it employs 1,300 people including maintenance workers, civil engineers and administrators.

In its 2013-14 annual report, NI Water said the services it provided cost £430m a year and stated that it received 64% of its income from the Government.

The chief executive of NI Water's salary is believed to be around £150,000.

Businesses already pay for their water. In 2004 the then direct rule DRD minister John Spellar proposed water charges for domestic customers. This was greeted with fury and a widespread public campaign against paying for water.

NI Water became embroiled in controversy in 2010 and four board members were sacked amidst controversy on how the company was awarding contracts.

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