Statement on higher than normal water bills
21 June 2011 16:55NI Water is sympathetic to businesses who suffered burst water pipes caused by the severe weather last winter.
NI Water has a legal responsibility to treat all its customers equally and in a fair and consistent manner. NI Water cannot chose which customers can be singled out to pay less for their bill, this would be unfair on those who are struggling in other ways i.e. because of the current economic climate.
Ultimately, the revenue raised from water bills is taxpayers money – NI Water does not have the power to change the law on revenue collection for water bills. What we can do is work with customers experiencing difficulties with large bills; putting in place repayment plans and offering guidance on repayments.
It is very important customers and the wider public understand the pipework on private property is the responsibility of the property owner. NI Water provides advice and information on protecting pipework; however it is up to the individual customer to implement any of the recommendations made.
In particular, regular advice to customers to check their meters is issued to prevent large bills from burst pipes. If customers followed this advice, then they would be aware of a leak on their property much earlier than when the bill arrives.
During the freeze/thaw, NI Water strongly encouraged all customers to check their properties for leaks and to repair these promptly. Leaks on private property caused considerable strain to the NI Water supply network. A great deal of time and resources were spent identifying and shutting down these leaks. At one point leaks found on 3 private properties were wasting enough water to supply 10,000 homes.
Any customer experiencing difficulties with their bill can phone NI Water’s billing helpline on 08458 770030 to discuss a repayment plan and any concerns they have.
NI Water consults with key stakeholders on a regular basis in relation to changes in billing or policies which may have an impact on customers.
NI Water cannot comment on individual cases, however, a Notice of Disconnection will only be sent to a customer as a last resort. A number of attempts to engage with a customer would be made before this stage would be reached. If a Notice of Disconnection were sent to a customer, the disconnection would apply to the commercial side of the property; the domestic water supply would not be affected.