200 tip-offs for 'breach' of hosepipe ban, but no fines as yet
Almost 200 alleged breaches have been reported to NI Water since the hosepipe ban came into force on July 2, it emerged yesterday.
And roughly two-thirds - equating to 140 tip-offs from the public - have been followed up by NI Water staff, its chief executive Sara Venning confirmed.
However, NI Water has yet to issue any fines, which could reach up to £1,000.
NI Water told the Belfast Telegraph that when individuals had been spoken to about alleged breaches, staff had "received an excellent response and further action was not required".
It was unable to provide a breakdown on what grounds individuals gave for flouting the ban.
Anyone observed using a hosepipe for watering their garden, filling up paddling pools or washing their cars can be reported for breaching rules established under Article 116 of the 2006 Water and Sewerage Services Order.
Meanwhile, as the Republic's own month-long ban started yesterday, prohibiting the watering of gardens, cleaning cars and other uses which have been deemed non-essential by Irish Water, Ms Venning told BBC Radio Ulster that pressure on Northern Ireland's water supply had been reduced in recent days.
She stressed, however, that NI Water was making preparations in anticipation of the heatwave continuing next week.
"Temperatures are due to go up again next week," she explained.
"The demand was very much linked to the temperature and we are making sure we have enough headroom to provide that extra demand that our farmers and growers will start to need and are messaging that they will need.
"On supply, we are seven days since we introduced the ban, and we have had no rain.
"We see no forecast of rain in the near future, so we are looking at our raw water resources and the levels of storage within those."
The chief executive also reiterated that she did not want the ban, which remains in force until at least July 31, to be in place any "longer than necessary", and would continue to monitor the situation.
Ultimately, a decision on potentially lifting the ban would be based on assessing what impact it would have on NI Water's "ability to continue to maintain supplies".
NI Water stressed that it would continue to rigorously respond to public tip-offs, but cautioned that there were procedures in place which it has to adhere to.
It added: "There is a process to follow before enforcement action would be considered against an individual.
"Each case will be considered on its own merits and where there is sufficient evidence to substantiate the allegation, further action may be taken.
"However, we fully appreciate the efforts of the public in helping us to conserve water, and if everyone follows the guidelines, it will negate the need to enforce the hosepipe ban with penalties."
The company added that a loss of water supply to local households was a "completely avoidable" situation - as long as the public played their part.
It said: "If everyone simply restricts unnecessary use of water, there will be plenty for everyone.
"We are appealing to customers to adopt lifelong water saving habits."