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Statement on behalf of the NI Water Board

31 December 2010 16:54

Current Status and Outlook

The reservoirs are still at a very low level across the Province. Those in the North and West of the Province have recovered more quickly and the system there generally is in better position than the East and the South of the Province. The main areas of current concern are Greater Belfast and parts of Cookstown.

We expect to see a gradual improvement in reservoir levels as bursts on our system or on customer systems are repaired. We are currently sending record levels of water in to the network and water production is at its maximum capacity 862Ml/day (the highest in the history of the organisation).

We expect reservoir levels to return to an acceptable level during the next few days. This should remove the need for restricting supplies on a rotational basis from the middle of next week.

As of today we estimate that 4400 customers have been without water since possibly Monday (this compares with 7000 yesterday) and 530 customers have been off supply today to conserve water on a rotational basis in the mid Antrim Area. This number will increase later today in Belfast because of concerns re reservoir levels. Further detailed information will be provided in this regard, however, we will seek to ensure that commercial premises remain on supply in the City centre.

There remains a responsibility on householders/ stakeholders to check for bursts on their own premises. For instance in the last 48 hours alone we have established that almost 10Ml/d have been lost at 3 locations on private properties, this equates to the standard supply to 10,000 homes.


Despite the fact that we had in place an industry standard well tried and tested Major Incident which was fully activated on Monday 27 December, our processes for communicating with customers were seriously inadequate and unacceptable notwithstanding the unprecedented nature of the incident.

As the week has progressed we have made every effort to improve these processes. This is a significant learning experience for the organisation. On the website we have now provided details of the postcodes of customers whose supply will be rotated.

Today as a result of the Board meeting the following further steps have been agreed:

-additional call centre capacity to maintain capacity at an appropriate level over the holiday period (75 call handlers) and beyond if needs be;
-put in place with local radio stations hourly bulletins to advise of customers who may be subject to rotation of supply;
-we will also be issuing public information notices in print media to keep customers fully appraised of the ongoing situation over the course of the next few days.

The Board wishes to acknowledge and thank all NIW staff who came forward and participated in restoring customers to supply in what has been probably the single biggest supply incident the organisation has faced.

The Board would also like to thank local Councils and other agencies for the support and assistance they have provided to date.

The Board will engage with management again next Tuesday to consider how best to further improve our response to any future similar incidents.


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