Belfast Telegraph

2. NI Water

  • Chief executive: Sara Venning
  • Pre-tax profit: £94.5m
  • Employment: 1,302
  • Pay bill: £63.9m

NI Water says that it delivers what matters and exists to provide the water for life which is relied upon to thrive.

The company observes that every aspect of life in Northern Ireland depends on its vital infrastructure. The business is essential to support a healthy and thriving population, a growing economy and a flourishing natural environment. The company says that its focus is “to consistently deliver high quality drinking water and recycle used water safely to the environment”.

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To provide a sense of scale, NI Water delivers 570 million litres of clean, safe drinking water to 860,000 households and businesses and recycles 340 million litres of used water from 700,000 households and businesses.

It costs around £460m each year to deliver water services in Northern Ireland. Thousands of assets at a value of around £3bn are operated and maintained to provide NI Water’s services.

Its assets include over 40,000km of water mains and sewers — one and a half times longer than Northern Ireland’s entire road network and long enough to circle planet earth.

The company, which is a government-owned company or GoCo, says that since its formation in 2007, “we have been leading the challenge on doing more for customers, with fewer resources”.

“We have transformed the delivery of water services, delivering record levels of service for our customers while reducing our cost base through sustainable efficiencies.

“NI Water is one of the most successful examples of a public sector organisation achieving private sector levels of performance and efficiency.”

But the company also calls for changes to its governance and funding if it’s to continue its performance.

“The Department for Infrastructure, the independent Utility Regulator and many informed commentators agree that the current governance and funding of water and sewerage services requires revision.

“The public policy objectives for water and sewerage services remain under-funded.”

The company is now developing its investment plan for the next Price Control period, 2021-2027 (PC21).

It says that around £2.5bn will be needed to address capacity issues and continue providing essential services. This includes an investment of around £1bn in the Living with Water Programme, which will provide sewerage treatment and drainage infrastructure in greater Belfast during the 2020s to support the existing population and allow it to grow.

The company adds: “The services provided by the company are essential for a modern regional economy.

“NI Water is committed to working with all its strategic partners in both the public and private sectors to secure the necessary investment to deliver resilient and sustainable services for customers.”

During the year the company spoke out over the burdens being placed on its infrastructure from the increased rate of housebuilding in the province.

The company said extra funding was needed to bring waste water infrastructure up to date, or the rate of new housebuilding would be hampered. It highlighted a lack of capacity at 70 sewage treatment works across the province, including Limavady, Lurgan and Larne.

Earlier this year the company also increased its charges to business customers by 2.7%, a level determined by the Utility Regulator. However, domestic customers are still not charged for water.

NI Water

40 Old Westland Road


BT14 6TE

Tel: 08457 440088