Water supplies boosted pre-freeze
The amount of emergency supplies of water held to cope with the winter freeze has more than doubled, the regional development minister said.
A total of 250,000 litres of bottled reserves have been stockpiled by Northern Ireland Water with more available if householders face interrupted service due to bad weather, Danny Kennedy said.
Last year thousands of houses ran dry after pipes burst following the severe freeze before Christmas.
Mr Kennedy told the assembly: "Last year was the worst winter since 1881. I hope very much that things will improve but I am confident that we have the resources available at this point."
Alternative locations for water distribution have been identified, the minister added.
The UUP Newry and Armagh representative added: "At this stage we are not able to safely predict the type of weather conditions we are going to face.
"It is clear in terms of lessons learned last year that NI Water, along with other agencies, is putting in place plans."
Last year 100,000 litres of water were available for emergencies and the Scottish Executive provided further supplies.
This time, NI Water has 250,000 litres ready, Mr Kennedy said. A contract has also been signed with a local supplier to provide up to 144,000 litres a day during an emergency.
There have been additional phone lines installed at NI Water in preparation for calls from customers. There will be an increased number of hotlines for use by elected representatives."