Belfast Telegraph

NI Water's warning after staff under threat when closing vandalised fire hydrants

By Claire Williamson

NI Water has issued a warning after members of its staff came under threat while closing fire hydrants that had been vandalised by young people.

During the last few days of warm weather, NI Water have been dealing with incidents in the Ligoniel and New Lodge areas.

The incidents have caused some homes and businesses to suffer low water pressure or no water at all.

Staff members have also come under threat from local youths when they try to close the hydrant down, with workers having to return late into the night when the crowds have gone,

A spokesman said: "This is totally unacceptable behaviour towards staff who are trying their best to do their job and protect the water supply to customers.

"NI Water would appeal to community and political representatives to continue to support us in tackling this issue.  The whole community needs to help us put a stop to this behaviour before the unthinkable scenario occurs where a fire breaks out and there is no water for the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service to deal with the fire."

NI Water said it has used "vandal proof" hydrant lids to stop the hydrants being vandalised but "if someone has the time and the resources, they can eventually break these open".

SDLP MLA Nichola Mallon condemned the behaviour.

She told the BBC: "It is particularly hard for parents with young children when there is no access to water to bath them and in this hot weather drinking water - for the likes of elderly people it is also a hardship.

"Some young people might think this is harmless fun, it is not, it is causing serious disruption to people's lives."

NI Water is asking people to report vandalism to the PSNI or to Waterline on 03457 440088 or confidentially to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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