Belfast Telegraph

Businesses urged to use rainwater

By Linda McKee

Northern Ireland businesses could future proof themselves against rising water bills by investing in rainwater harvesting, sustainable business experts Envirowise say.

Almost 800,000 domestic, agricultural, commercial and business properties are connected to the public water supply and 660,000 connected to the public sewerage system —and many could be cutting their dependence on mains water.

Experts are predicting that the fuel crisis could pale in comparison to the impact that limited water supplies and resulting price hikes could have if businesses continue their present consumption levels, Envirowise said.

Northern Ireland Water now supplies 619 million litres of water a day and treats 134 million cubic metres of wastewater each year.

The group says rainwater can be used in many ways, from toilet flushing through to cooling water in manufacturing processes, particularly as the ‘soft’ nature of the water means there are reduced limescale deposits.

The benefits of using rainwater have caught on in many sectors, from the hotel and leisure industry, through to nurseries, gardens and sports grounds, who are using collected rainwater to help meet water needs and reduce mains water consumption.

Sam McCloskey, Northern Ireland regional manager for Envirowise, a government-funded programme that offers practical environmental advice for businesses, said: “By utilising the rainwater that falls on the roofs of your site, you can reduce demand for mains water and assist local drainage by limiting the volume of rainwater reaching the ground.”

Envirowise has recently published a water fact sheet that helps businesses discover if rainwater harvesting is suitable for their property. The fact sheet takes businesses through simple steps to help quantify the amount of water currently used, the maximum water that may be harvested in a year and the cost benefits.

The Reducing Mains Water Use through Rainwater Harvesting fact sheet is available for download from the Envirowise website at

Belfast Telegraph