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how to save water

Response to coronavirus

Covid-19

We wanted to let you know what we’re doing to protect our staff and customers, whilst as always making sure we supply our water and wastewater services. This page helps to explain some of the work we’ve been doing to keep water flowing and should help to answer any questions you might have.

We understand this is a challenging time. We’ve got robust plans to keep our services and operations running, and we’re putting them into practice now.

We’re following government health advice to make sure our customers and our people stay safe, while making sure we continue to deliver our critical services to you. This might mean we need to change the way we do things for a while or some activities may take a little longer. If that’s the case, rest assured, we’ll keep you updated.

It will be necessary for Northern Ireland Water to carry out some essential works to continue to make sure vital water and waste water services are maintained. You may see our frontline employees and key supply chain partners working to fix bursts and clear sewers, which may require groundworks and machinery. Please be assured they are working to ensure customers receive a consistently high level of service. They are all practising social distancing – their priority is to keep customers and colleagues safe. So please keep your distance and their workers will carry on with their essential work for you

Please be assured that we continue to monitor this situation very closely and our primary focus is to ensure our service to you is maintained in a safe and responsible manner.
 

Helping us all stay safe

We play a vital role in public health and we’ll continue to make sure we supply you with clean safe drinking water and treat your wastewater safely.

Sometimes, we need to visit customers’ homes or businesses. At this current time we will be scaling back our house calls and will only visit if vital to do so. If anyone in your home is ill or in self-isolation, please let us know straight away so we can take the necessary precautions to keep you and our teams safe.


Working to ensure the delivery of essential services during COVID-19

The Government has officially designated NI Water’s workforce necessary to deliver water and wastewater services as ‘key workers’ in a critical public service. We have produced a short guide for customers who may see our staff and contractors on the ground, to reassure you that work is proceeding as normal, whilst adhering to social distancing. Click here to view


Beware of Bogus Callers taking advantage of Covid-19

NI Water is urging customers to be extra vigilant about bogus callers coming to their home who claim to work for NI Water.  If a caller comes to your door claiming to be from NI Water, always ask to see their ID – all NI Water staff carry ID cards as they go about their business https://www.niwater.com/bogus-callers/


Priority Services 

If you or any of your family or friends need a little extra help due to particular health issues, please make sure you’re signed up to our Customer Care Register. By letting us know about your needs and circumstances, we can do our best to support you. You can register for the free services online. For more information, and to register, please visit www.niwater.com/customer-care-register/

You can also sign someone up on their behalf if they don’t have access to the internet.

If you’re self-isolating and you’re worried about what you’d do if your water supply was interrupted, please get in touch and we’ll do our best to help. If you’re otherwise healthy and don’t normally need extra support, there’s no need to join our Customer Care Register.

Bills for our Business Customers

It’s a challenging time for everyone at the moment and the last thing we’d want anyone worrying about is how they’ll pay their water bill. If your circumstances have changed and you’re struggling to pay your bill please get in touch with us.

VAT Receipts

Given the current government restrictions for COVID-19, all of our administrative staff are working from home and are therefore unable to issue official correspondence, this includes vat receipts in relation to services for which you have paid.

If you can provide an email address we will e-mail you a copy of your vat receipt. If not, we will issue you with a printed copy but there will be a delay in processing.

Thank you for your cooperation and patience during these unprecedented circumstances


Keeping in touch with us 

There are lots of ways you can get in touch with us if you need to, either online at niwater.com, through Social Media on Facebook and Twitter or by phone on 03457 440088.


How you can help us


Please conserve water where possible

Northern Ireland Water is asking the public, both householders and businesses to help us in maintain vital water and wastewater services by conserving water where possible.

In particular, we are asking non-domestic customers to turn off all non-essential water in buildings which are not going to be in use for a period of time, including, for example, the automatic flushing of urinals.


Think Before You Flush: Keeping our sewers blockage free

Northern Ireland Water is also conscious that there may be an increased usage of wipes at this time. We know it’s been really hard to get hold of toilet roll, but it’s more important than ever that everyone remembers not to flush wipes and kitchen roll down your toilet. Please only flush the three P’s – that’s pee, poo and (toilet) paper to help us keep the sewers flowing and stop blockages from forming which can then cause sewage to back up in people’s homes and gardens.

Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.

Further Information

Public Health Agency

NI Direct Government Advice 

GOV.UK

COVID 19 Frequently asked questions

General

How is NI Water preparing to deal with the impact of COVID19?

Making sure our customers always have excellent quality drinking water, their wastewater taken away and a person at the end of the phone/computer should you need to chat with is our number one priority. There are lots of us here at NI Water who are prepared to make sure this happens during the current situation and whilst we will do everything we can to keep all our colleagues protected and safe, we already had plans in place to make sure we continue to serve the people of Northern Ireland.

We are focusing on our essential services to customers and it is likely that we might have to cancel some non-urgent work. We’re sorry if this causes some disruption but it’s an important part of our plan to keep everything going as normal and keep our people safe.


Billing

Unmeasured Customers

When will I receive my unmeasured bill?

Your full 2020/21 unmeasured bill will be issued in July.

What sort of repayment options are available?

A repayment plan for the remainder of the current financial year is available to unmeasured customers.

I am unable to make increased payment amounts over a reduced timeframe. What can you do to help?

NI Water will assess payment difficulties on a case-by-case basis. We urge you to contact us on our Billing Line on 0345 877 0030 and we can discuss your circumstances and explore options available to you and come to a suitable, sustainable payment arrangement.

Are any discounts available?

NI Water has decided not to apply an increase to water and sewerage tariffs which had been due to be introduced on 1st April. NI Water is unable to offer customers any other discounts on our bills.

I normally pay my bill by Direct Debit, when will this be taken from my account?

During this period unmeasured customers’ direct debits have been suspended. Once you receive your 20/21 unmeasured bill the direct debit will resume and you will receive written confirmation of your instalments on your bill.

What NAV will my new bill be based on?

Unmeasured bills will be based on the latest valuation list, which came into effect on 1st April 2020. Customers who have a query relating to their NAV should contact the Land and Property Services

I would prefer to be billed based on metered charges.

Metering activities are currently suspended. Please contact us again in July and we will investigate if it is possible for a meter to be installed on your supply. If it is possible, you will remain liable for unmeasured charges up until the date the meter is physically installed.


Metered Customers

When will I receive my next bill?

For customers who are billed on a six-monthly metered charge, you will receive your next bill when your meter is read after billing resumes. If the meter serving your property was due to be read between April and June 2020, your next bill due between October and December will be for 12 months. For customers billed on a monthly metered basis, the next bill you receive in July 2020 will be for 4 months. See table below:



Original Bill Date 
New Bill Date 
Usage Period 
Apr-20
Oct-20
October-19 – October-20
May-20
Nov-20
November-19 – November-20
Jun-20
Dec-20
December-19 – December-20
Monthly
Jul-20
April-20 – July-20


I still want to be billed in the normal way between April and June. Can you arrange this?

Your bill is based on a meter reading. Currently all metering activities have been suspended. All billing has also been suspended and no new bills will be issued until July.

If there is no billing for 3 months, what happens with my Direct Debit plan during this time?

Unless NI Water is otherwise directed, your direct debit continues as normal.

My business has not been trading since 23 March (lockdown) and I’m unable to pay my latest bill. Will my premises be disconnected?

All metering activities are currently suspended. The meter serving your property will not be disconnected but we urge you to contact us on our Billing Line on 0345 877 0030 and we can discuss your circumstances and explore options available to you.

Are any discounts available?

There are no discounts available for metered customers, other than the normal domestic allowance and non-return to sewer allowance.

I’ve had to permanently close my business. Can you arrange a temporary/permanent disconnection of the meter?

All Metering activity has been suspended to ensure the continued delivery of essential water and wastewater services. As such, we are unable to disconnect meters at present. Once your completed form has been emailed to customer[DOT]billing[AT]niwater[DOT]com, your request will recorded and we will arrange the disconnection of the meter when operatives return to normal duties. Your metered charges will be ended from the date on your request form.

I have a repayment arrangement but I can’t afford to keep up my payments during this lockdown period. What can you do to help?

NI Water urges you to contact us on our Billing Line on 0345 877 0030 and we can discuss your circumstances and explore options available to you.

I’m still trading and I think there is a problem with the meter serving my property as it has stopped recording usage. What do I do?

We have noted your reported issue and once our Metering operatives return to normal activities, we will have the matter fully investigated. Your next bill may be adjusted to reflect normal usage.

Does this 3 month suspension of billing mean that I do not need to make monthly payments as agreed in my repayment plan?

Repayment arrangements remain unchanged unless agreed otherwise. NI Water will assess payment difficulties on a case-by-case basis. We urge you to contact us on our Billing Line on 0345 877 0030 and we can discuss your circumstances and explore options available to you.

My rates have been deferred. Will I still receive my domestic allowance?

Yes, your domestic allowance is still applicable for the full year, i.e. 200 cubic metres (m3) per annum for water and 190 m3 for wastewater.


Questions Common to both Unmeasured / Metered Customers

If there is no billing between April and June, does this mean I have 3 months free of charges for 2020/21?

The suspension of billing is a delay in the issue of bills until July. You are still liable for the charges relating to the April to June period which will be reflected in the detail of your next bill. This measure is a demonstration of NI Water’s commitment to do what it can to support our business community as we all make our way through this situation and as we plan to rebuild our economy in the months ahead.

Will the tariff increase be applied later in the financial year and when will this be decided?

The tariffs will be reviewed in September 2020 in the context of the economic environment and any announcements will be made after this review period.

I am no longer responsible for the property. What do I do?

If you have recently vacated the property, please contact us providing evidence such as a proof of sale, or your tenancy agreement. You will remain liable for charges up until the date you vacated the property.


Priority Services

I have underlying health conditions which mean I’m more at risk, what can you do to help?

If you’re not already signed up please ensure you are registered on our customer care register, https://www.niwater.com/customer-care-register/.

By signing up to our register it helps us understand your needs and what we can do to support you better. There are different ways we can tailor our support depending on your circumstances.

I’m self-isolating, can I join the Customer Care register?

It’s very rare that we interrupt your water supply and if we do, it usually only happens for a short period of time. If you do experience an interruption to your water supply while you’re self-isolating and you are worried, please get in touch and we will do our best to help. If you are otherwise healthy and don’t normally need extra support, there is no need to join the customer care register.


Water Quality

Can coronavirus be transmitted through the water supply?

The virus is eliminated very effectively by drinking water treatment and in particular by disinfection. All of our drinking water supplies are fully treated and disinfected with chlorine at our water treatment works. A small residue of chlorine is present in the treated drinking water when it reaches our customer taps. This is to ensure that the quality of the drinking water is maintained through our water mains network. The World Health Organisation advises that this way of treating water kills the virus.

My water is discoloured following a burst / flushing. How can I clear it?

Discoloured water is usually only temporary and can often be cleared by allowing the first incoming cold water tap (so the one nearest to your stop tap) to run for five minutes to help clear the water. We’ve got more information on what to do if you’ve got discoloured water on our website https://www.niwater.com/report-water-quality-issues/


Planned Work

If an NI Water colleague needs to enter my property am I at risk?

All our colleagues have been provided with safety equipment and the latest guidance from the Government and the Public Health Agency to minimise the risk and help reduce the spread of coronavirus. Due to government guidelines on Social Distancing relating to Covid-19 our colleagues won’t be entering properties at this time, unless absolutely necessary

If there are NI Water road works happening on my street am I at risk?

All our colleagues have been provided with safety equipment and the latest guidance from the Government and the Public Health Agency to minimise the risk and help reduce the spread of coronavirus. We will not normally need to enter your home during roadworks, so there is no additional risk to you.


Bursts

What if there is a burst in my area? I’m worried about not being able to wash my hands for a long time?

It’s rare for anyone’s water supply to be interrupted by a burst pipe but it can occasionally happen. We treat this as emergency work and our technicians re-route the water supply and sometimes use tankers to get everyone’s water back on before we start fixing the damaged section of pipe.

We understand that the current coronavirus situation means that people need to be able to wash their hands frequently and that any interruption to supply will be worrying. We always work hard to get water supplies back on as soon as possible and will provide updates on our website and social media channels.

If you have a medical condition which means you would struggle to manage without a clean water supply for a short period of time, please ensure you are registered on our customer care register, https://www.niwater.com/customer-care-register/. We can then provide you with additional help during an interruption to your water supply. 

Are you giving out bottled water?

No, tap water is perfectly safe to drink. It is very unusual, but if the water does go off, perhaps because of a burst or a repair we’re carrying out, we treat this as emergency work. Our technicians re-route the water supply and sometimes use tankers to get everyone’s water back on before we start fixing the damaged section of pipe.

If you have a medical condition which means you would struggle to manage without a clean water supply for a short period of time, please ensure you are registered on our customer care register. We can then provide you with additional help during an interruption to your water supply.

If there’s no loo roll left, can I use kitchen towel, blue roll or wet wipes?

If you do use this, please don’t flush it down the loo! You should only ever flush the three Ps: pee, poo and toilet paper. Kitchen towel or industrial blue roll can take longer to break down, blocking pipes which floods sewers and can lead to pollutions. We would advise everyone to bin these items rather than flush them.

I have an issue with the water supply in my property. Will you still be able to help me?

Yes of course. We have a number of ways of contacting us. Our website is available 24/7 providing a map update detailing current information on any water supply issues affecting your property  http://www.niwater.com/current-service-updates/; on Social Media on Facebook and Twitter and our Customer Relations Centre is available to customers, 24 hours a day / 365 days a year.

What measures are you taking to prevent the spread of Coronavirus?

The safety and wellbeing of our colleagues and customers is our number one priority. We are regularly reviewing the official advice regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and advising our colleagues to follow the necessary public health information, including frequent handwashing, working in isolation wherever possible and having the appropriate protective equipment, to name a few.

Our rehearsed incident procedures have been put in place with our dedicated response team constantly assessing the situation.

Will I continue to receive a continuous supply of water?

Delivering a secure and reliable water supply, whilst protecting our colleagues and customers is our main priority. Our water supply network is currently operating as normal, and we are taking every precaution to protect our frontline colleagues who manage our network on a day-to-day basis.

Will all of this extra hand washing we’re being asked to do mean you’ll run out of water?

No, there’s no chance of that. We have sufficient resource levels and this is not a risk. We would always actively encourage people to follow the PHA guidelines and wash their hands more often.

What happens if all of your staff become poorly, will the water stop?

We have been monitoring the situation for a long time and have been working to ensure our resilience plans are as strong as possible and that we are prepared for any eventuality.

We’ve been increasing the numbers of our operational people who can help run our critical functions at our water treatment works and waste water treatment works, to ensure that regardless of what happens we can maintain peoples’ water and waste water services.

What can you do to help?

Keep washing your hands regularly and keep up-to-date with the latest Public Health and Government advice

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