ICE NI calls for domestic water charging to be introduced
The Institution of Civil Engineering (ICE) in Northern Ireland has called for domestic water charging to be introduced in the provence by May 2019 to help provide high quality water and sewerage services, and to avoid incurring EU infraction charges.
The recommendation is one of ten outlined in ICE NI’s Building Our Quality of Life manifesto, which centres on delivery, resilience and skills. The manifesto includes the 2016 State of the Nation needs assessment across five industry sectors: flooding, water, waste, energy and transport.
ICE NI said in the manifesto: “The EU recommends water charging to sustainably manage water consumption, and currently Northern Ireland is the only region in the EU to not implement this strategy. With budgets set to remain static — at best — until the end of 2020, we ask the Executive to consider the benefits of releasing c. £280M of the block grant through the introduction of domestic water charging. With exceptions in place for those unable to pay, ring-fencing this user charge will better protect our people and environment and provide high quality water and sewerage services.
“…without increased investment in the infrastructure which supports it, we are at risk of sewers over-flowing and pollution entering our rivers and beaches
The manifesto said while progress had been made with water main rehabilitation programmes and drinking water standards remain high, lack of funds due to Department for Regional Development (DRD) cuts has constrained further progress. In addition to water main rehabilitation, improvement in recent years to trunk main interconnection has led to drinking water’s high grading.
However, wastewater infrastructure is at risk, with DRD having identified £750M needed between 2020-2026 to address capacity and water quality issues around Belfast.
ICE NI is recommending the implementation of Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS), which provide better management of water quantity and quality, and improved social amenity. “We are encouraged by the work of DRD in bringing forward draft legislation which includes adoption of some SuDS components by NI Water. However, we recommend that the planning departments in the councils become the champions for SuDS to ensure they are considered at the early stage of any application and are embedded in our development culture.”
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