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Saintfield River Pollution Incident

06 January 2010 8:45

Northern Ireland Water (NI Water) has pleaded guilty at Downpatrick Magistrates’ Court to causing a pollution incident at the Saintfield River on 20th February 2008. This incident is linked to inappropriate items such as rags, plastic bottles, baby wipes, cotton buds, sanitary items etc being flushed into the sewage system and causing a blockage.

A spokesperson for NI Water explained, “Many people genuinely don’t realise the potential damage they are doing, not only to their own internal pipes, but also to the sewerage system by flushing baby wipes, sanitary items and cotton buds. Unfortunately, in this case, inappropriate flushing has resulted in the sewer overflowing and causing this pollution incident and damage to the environment.

“NI Water takes any issue of pollution extremely seriously and acted quickly to clear the blockage.”

NI Water believes that the fine of £500 (+£22 court costs) reflects the court’s recognition that this incident was not of high severity and NI Water took action to clear up the pollution. NI Water has cooperated fully with the Northern Ireland Environment Agency throughout this process.

The spokesperson continued, “The protection of the environment is a major priority for NI Water and significant resources and measures are invested to safeguard it. NI Water is the only public body in Northern Ireland to have earned ISO 14001 status, an international standardisation award based on a company’s environmental management system.”

NI Water spends over of £1.7 million per year clearing blocked drains and sewers.

NI Water asks the public to help us with the task of keeping the environment in good condition by ensuring inappropriate items are not dumped down drains which can result in flooding and sewage leaks. The advice is simple – Bag it and Bin it, don’t flush it.

Information on NI Water’s ‘Bag it and Bin it’ campaign can be found on

Media enquiries to Press Office on 028 9035 4710 or


Ӣ On 1st April 2007, NI Water replaced the Water Service and lost Crown Immunity.
”¢ Over 50 prosecutions were taken against other UK water companies in 2007 with fines totalling £274,500

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