Belfast Telegraph

Friday 4 September 2015

Single burst pipe lost enough water to supply a town

By Noel McAdam

Published 12/08/2011

One building lost enough water to supply a whole town during last winter’s ‘big freeze’ crisis in Northern Ireland.

Over a week the vacant property at Dunmurry in south Belfast leaked around 30m litres of water from a burst pipe.

And that, according to NI Water, is sufficient to have supplied a town the size of Newtownards for a week.

The shock statistic comes as the company confirmed plans to begin an education programme this autumn to help prevent any repeat of the Christmas and New Year disaster which saw 40,000 homes off supply for up to eight days.

But NIW has also dismissed claims that a lack of plumbing inspectors had contributed to the shortages experienced by customers in December and January as “nonsense”.

As the Belfast Telegraph revealed earlier this week, former senior officials and engineers who are being made redundant claimed management mistakes helped exacerbate the unprecedented problems which affected 80 towns and villages. But now the company has also stressed: “We cannot solve this problem in isolation — it can only be addressed by a partnership between ourselves and our customers.”

Accepting its responsibility to provide as much information, help and advice as possible to allow the public to protect their pipes and property, NIW said it needs:

  • Landlords to make sure vacant properties are checked.
  • Farmers to locate and isolate bursts at an early stage.
  • Businesses, schools and churches to be checked during holiday periods.

Flagging up its campaign to “hopefully raise awareness of the responsibility we all carry to prevent a repeat of last winter's incident”, NIW cited the example of waste in the vacant property in Dunmurry, south Belfast.


30 million litres of water would also:

Supply a family of four for 137 years

Top up 15m kettles, for 120m cups of tea

Provide 375,000 baths — or 850,000 showers

Fill more than 160 Olympic-size pools

Flush a toilet 2,142,000 times

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