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Alliance's stance on water crisis crystal clear

I AM unsure why 'Taxpayer North Down' (Writeback, January 6, 2011) feels the 'Alliance Party needs to sort out its policy stance' on water as it is crystal clear.

Alliance believes that Northern Ireland should have a first class water and sewage system. Director of Engineering at NI Water Trevor Haslett recently stated: "Although we have invested over the past three years around £150m in our water mains, that is still only replacing 1% of the system." Compared to 1.9% in Scotland we need to invest much more money in our water and sewage systems.

Rather than slashing spending for other government departments to pay for the investment or making rash short-term decisions such as selling reservoirs, we are honest with the electorate and believe that water charges cannot be deferred forever. Rather than ignoring the inevitable and continuing with an ageing water system we feel the focus should be on ensuring any water charges are levied on a fair and equitable basis.

People living in Holywood and further afield recently were without water, while nearby reservoirs were full. Selling these reservoirs shouldn't be on the agenda until people can be assured they will receive a reliable water supply all year round.

Only when water supply can be assured can alternative uses of the reservoirs be considered. If we want a get-rich-quick type of society then we face the loss not just of scenic reservoirs but also of parks, forests and all other assets which can fetch a few pounds. If, however, we value the environment and feel that people have the right to enjoy decent leisure opportunities then government should ensure the reservoirs remain in public hands rather than being sold to the highest bidder.

Cllr Andrew Muir

Bangor, Co Down


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