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NI Water’s Response to Legal Powers

30 October 2018 17:16

NI Water has moved today to assure the public that the hosepipe ban imposed in June and July of this year was necessitated by the exceptionally hot weather conditions but the company also accepts that it misinterpreted the extent of its powers under Article 116.  NI Water acknowledges and accepts the clarification and advice given by the Attorney General.

NI Water’s CEO Sara Venning comments, “The purpose and intent of the hosepipe ban was simple, to encourage customers to conserve water to ensure that everyone remained in supply. 

“We welcome the Attorney General’s advice in this situation and have taken it on board. We wish to apologise to our customers for giving them the impression that they would be criminally sanctioned if they broke the hosepipe ban for example, by filling a paddling pool. That was never our intention and we worked hard in our communications during this period to seek the cooperation of the public.

“NI Water is satisfied that we had a legal right to put a hosepipe ban in place and we appreciate not only the good work of our staff, but also the immense support from the public during that time.

“Given the extreme situation faced by NI Water and indeed all of our customers, our legal team examined the legislation, which is acknowledged by all to be outdated. Following that, we decided to ban certain activities in and around the garden. Otherwise, the strain on water resources would have been stretched even further and may have resulted in the ban being in place for a longer period.

“Following the lifting of the ban on July 19th, NI Water conducted a review of our interpretation of these powers. As a result, which included getting further legal opinion, we accept that our interpretation of Article 116 was too broad and had sought to ban certain activities that were not included such as washing paths, patios, walls and filling swimming pools.  

“We are now working in conjunction with the relevant authorities to have our legislation changed to ensure it is appropriate for Northern Ireland’s needs.

“NI Water stands by the decision to put the ban in place, as the ultimate penalty was that thousands of our customers would have faced supply interruptions. The public reaction to the hosepipe ban was fantastic and it was undoubtedly due to their support that NI Water was able to avert any disruption; after all, this is a situation that affected each and every one of us. We cannot stress enough the devastating impact it would have had on our customers if the ban was not put in place.” 

ENDS


Media enquiries to the NI Water Press Office on 028 9035 7695 or via email to press.office@niwater.com

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