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NI Water alert over supplies as heatwave leads to risk of shortages

Utility firm and Stormont calling on people to reduce unnecessary usage


Sunseekers: Crowds at Helen’s Bay

Sunseekers: Crowds at Helen’s Bay

Sunseekers: Crowds at Helen’s Bay

People have been warned to cut water usage now or risk losing supply amid shortages caused by the heatwave.

The alert from NI Water comes amid fears the network may fail due to high demand.

NI Water has urged everyone to reduce their usage as the supply has been impacted by the weather and people holidaying at home.

There has also been increased usage after dark, showing some are leaving sprinklers and hoses on overnight.

The alert came as the hottest day for three years was recorded here yesterday, with temperatures nearing 27C.

NI Water said it is essential to ensure everyone has sufficient water for hygiene and daily use — meaning filling paddling pools and swimming pools at home should be avoided.

Des Nevin of the company said: “If demand continues at this level, it will lead to failures in our network and some customers will lose supply or suffer low pressure. A number of customers over the past few days are already experiencing this, especially those on high ground.

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“On Thursday we put 695 million litres of water into our distribution system — this is over 120 million litres more than normal.”

He appealed for customers to lend a hand, “especially over the next few days when temperatures continue to be high”.

To those leaving hoses and sprinklers on overnight, he said: “Please stop. A hose uses more water in one hour than the average family uses in a whole day.

“A pressure washer can also be a massive drain, so please think about whether the task is really essential at the moment.”

And a sprinkler can use as much as 1,000 litres of clean drinking water in a single hour, more than a family-of-four would use in a whole day.

While it is tempting to use paddling or swimming pools at home this weekend, it should be avoided, Mr Nevin said.

He added: “Filling a 12ft swimming pool uses the same amount of water 500 people use for daily handwashing.”

Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon said: “There are many small, simple steps that all of us can make to use our water wisely.

“Over the past year-and-a-half the need for our precious water supplies has never been more evident in terms of our public health.

“Every small change can make a big difference when we work together to protect our water supplies. How we use our water can have a massive impact on water levels.”

It comes as the hot spell looks set to continue into the weekend.

Yesterday was the warmest day since 2018.

Castlederg in Co Tyrone recorded 26.9C at 4pm yesterday, and it was 26.5C at Belfast’s Stormont Estate and at Killowen, Co Down.

As temperatures soared, many opted to hit the beach.

Photographs showed Portstewart Strand packed with cars as sunseekers headed to the north coast, while Helen’s Bay in Co Down was also busy.

Today there will be low cloud and mist, which will burn away during the morning followed by sunny periods.

The Met Office said: “It will become very warm or hot in the south and east. Sea breezes will keep the north coast fresher, with maximum temperatures of 26C.”

The outlook for tomorrow and the early part of next week will be “mainly dry and settled, although a little drizzle is possible in the north early in the day”.  There will continue to be bright, sunny spells developing widely and it will be very warm.

The Met Offices’s Andy Page said: “The Azores high is the principal reason behind the UK’s current weather pattern, which will see much of the UK reach heatwave thresholds over the weekend and next week.”

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