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Residents rage at being left without water ‘at worst time’

Over a dozen towns and villages across NI hit with supply issues after water main burst

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Several areas across NI experienced water outages on Friday. Credit: PA

Several areas across NI experienced water outages on Friday. Credit: PA

Neill Kelly of Alliance

Neill Kelly of Alliance

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Several areas across NI experienced water outages on Friday. Credit: PA

Furious Northern Ireland residents have voiced their anger after being left without water for hours on one of the hottest days of the year.

More than a dozen towns and villages across counties Antrim, Londonderry and Tyrone were affected, with the problems starting on Friday morning.

Properties in these areas experienced low pressure when using taps or a complete loss of water supply.

As of Friday evening, supply issues were still plaguing several areas, including Antrim, Crumlin, Kells and Newtownards, while the problem in other areas was rectified after several hours.

It came after record-setting temperatures were set in Co Armagh on Thursday amid fears a hosepipe ban may be introduced.

Areas most at risk are those serviced by the Castor Bay water system, which feeds into Banbridge, Newry, Dungannon, as well as parts of Newcastle and Kilkeel.

In Antrim town, residents reported supermarkets being sold out of large bottles of water, with NI Water stating it could be midnight before services are restored in the area.

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An NI Water spokesperson said the issues in Antrim were caused as a result of a burst water main.

“NI Water is completing an emergency repair to a burst water main in Antrim which has resulted in a temporary loss of water supply and intermittent supply to properties in Antrim and surrounding areas,” they said.

“This burst is being exacerbated by the high demand we are currently experiencing and we are appealing to customers to please only use the water they need.”

One resident in Templepatrick, who wished to remain anonymous, said the problem came “at the worst possible time”.

“I have two young kids, who thankfully are out of town at their grandmother’s home, where there are no problems. But it looks like now they’re going to have to stay there,” he said.

“Nothing is coming from the taps and I’m going to have to go and try and stock up on bottled water, and if that fails, I’ll have to go to a friend’s place just so I can have a shower and cool down. How does something like this happen? My neighbour’s have gone off to stay with relatives who have water too. It’s a nightmare.”

Antrim woman Maria, who did not want to give her second name, said she received a text from NI Water around 9.15am on Friday stating there would be issues with the supply, which are not expected to be fixed until 12pm.

“No further texts were received. No washing, showering, cleaning etc was done this morning to conserve the tank. I checked the taps at 12.30pm - no water,” she said.

“Then I checked NI water website - no supply until 9pm! I understand these things happen but a projected 12 hours without water in 26 degree heat is ridiculous.”

On Friday evening, it emerged that it is estimated the water supply problems in Antrim would not be rectified until midnight.

Neill Kelly, Alliance councillor for the area, said he fears the problem could linger overnight and impact the elderly and those isolated the most.

“I’ve been in contact with the council to try and figure out a way to get bottled water or something to those who need it most, but it’s proving difficult,” he said.

“My fear is how long this could go on, people were told it would be sorted by 12pm, now it’s going to be midnight. With the heat it’s just crazy and I worry about the elderly, particularly those in care homes in the area that might be affected. It’s just a mess.”

One resident in the town said her baby is struggling as she needs water to feed him and clean his bottle.

Another woman said she was more worried about her pet dog going without water in the heat that about herself, while Andrea, also an Antrim resident, said she has a family of two adults, two children and two dogs, and her family are isolating due to a positive Covid test.

“There is no water in the supermarkets apparently. My friend dropped us off the last two bottles she could get in a local garage,” she added.

Des Nevin, NI Water’s director of customer operations, said Northern Ireland-wide demand for has remained “unsustainably high” and urged the public to act now to save water.

“It is our last resort to introduce a hosepipe ban but ultimately, that choice lays in the hands of our customers, if everyone simply uses the water they actually need, there will be plenty for everyone,” he said.


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