Belfast Telegraph

Water on tap remains a pipe dream for many

by Natalie Irvine

Containers of fresh water, so often associated with third world countries, were commonplace around the city yesterday as the country faced up to its water crisis.

Yesterday, Wednesday December 29, civic centres, community centres and leisure centres bore the new title of ‘humanitarian aid centres’ as they began to supply fresh drinking water to residents, “many of whom have endured eight days with no mains supply.”

Countless more community centres transformed into washrooms giving people their first opportunity to have a shower since before Christmas.

UUP councillor Michael Copeland said: “This is a humanitarian crisis. On boxing day alone, 68 constituents contacted me in distress — many of whom were pensioners who had been without water for up to eight days. Those that contacted me couldn’t get through to the designated emergency hotlines provided by NI Water and NIHE. Burst pipes and leaks have left so many without water, and have further reduced pressure in the system so that high rise blocks are without a water supply too. Some of the houses that have burst pipes are less than a year old — for all the money and all the talk, this is a disgrace.”

DUP MLA Robin Newton said: “The public will not forgive the politicians if we don’t learn from this very difficult situation. It is of little use blaming the statutory authorities if the outcome of how we handled this situation is not reviewed and experience gained. We need to gain increased knowledge from dealing with the snow and ice and the floods earlier this year and in previous years; and put that experience to good use.”

Fresh drinking water is available at Castlereagh Civic Centre, Ballymac Friendship Centre, (1a Fraser Pass, Belfast) and Avoniel leisure centre — people are asked to bring their own containers. Showers are available at Belvoir Activity Centre, Belvoir Drive; Cregagh Youth and Community Centre, Mount Merrion Avenue and Hanwood Centre, Kinross Avenue, Tullycarnet.

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