Belfast Telegraph

Pressure mounts for more investment in water works

by Natalie Gorman

Reports that a premises in Newtownabbey was one of three across the province to contribute to the loss of 10 million litres of water a day has sparked calls for greater investment in the water supply.

Newtownabbey Alliance councillor Tom Campbell, who describes NI Water’s handling of the water crisis as “lamentable”, told the Community Telegraph: “I am shocked that Newtownabbey is a source of the significant leakage amounting to 10 million litres of water a day.

“This surely points out the need for urgent action to take steps to improve our outdated water infrastructure which is not fit for purpose.

“This is a scandalous waste of pubic money and we are permitting a much needed resource to be almost literally poured down the drain. We cannot afford to have these crises every time we have inclement weather. Regrettably the only way round the problem is to invest in the future and this means expenditure that NI Water and the politicians funding it have been unable to grasp,” he said.

“There has been significant underinvestment in infrastructure in our water system which was a disaster waiting to happen.

“Despite the urgent need for investment in infrastructure, both main parties continue to oppose privatisation or mutualisation or the introduction of water charges while both seek short term political advantage to the detriment of our economy,” added Mr Campbell.

“I suspect that if this issue is fudged pending the completion of an inquiry, the problem will come back to haunt us every time we have a cold weather spell, which will in itself become a potent metaphor for the failure of leadership.

“Given that NIW receives 70% of its funding from the taxpayer and is 40% less efficient than its counterparts in England and Wales, it will be interesting to see what decisions, if any, are taken to deal with this serious crisis,” he concluded.

Before the thaw, results showed Northern Ireland’s water system was performing badly with around one-third of the supply (181m litres) being lost a day through leakages at an annual cost of £5m.

A statement released by NI Water said: “Given the reducing numbers of customers affected NI Water is now in the process of calling out to those customers who have contacted them on more than one occasion and would urge any customers still without a water supply to contact the call centre on 08457 440088.”

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