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NI Water to lift hosepipe ban as demand drops

Northern Ireland Water has announced that it intends to lift its hosepipe ban.

The company said the ban, which has been in effect throughout the entirety of Northern Ireland since 29 June, will be lifted from noon today (19 July) after a drop in demand.

However, NI Water CEO Sara Venning warned that it could yet be reintroduced if demand were to increase.

Venning said: “Thanks to the fantastic response from the public to our appeals to conserve water, we have seen demand for water decrease from three-quarters-of-a-billion litres per day – some 30 per cent above average – to near normal levels.

“This means our water treatment works, which were struggling to meet this exceptional demand, with large-scale water supply interruptions imminent, are now coping comfortably with demand. This allows us to lift the hosepipe ban.

“We would stress, however, that a continued focus on water conservation is essential. Ideally, we would like to see demand reduced still further or at least maintained at its present level to avoid the prospect of the ban having to be reintroduced. This is achievable if we continue to use water wisely.

“Many customers have adopted new habits and ways to conserve water in everyday life and we hope they will continue with these changes in their daily lives. Our top ten tips on how to save water are available on the NI Water website.

“While we can all take steps to control our demand, the supply of raw water depends on rainfall. The levels of raw water storage in our impounding reservoirs are being closely monitored.

“Recent rainfall has been a welcome development and while it has certainly helped our farmers and gardeners, the amount of rain has not been sufficient to have a positive impact on levels in many of our impounding reservoirs.

"These levels have not yet reached the point which would trigger the need for the imposition of restrictions, including a hosepipe ban, and do not represent a threat to water supplies in the short term. A continued period without rain will see reservoir levels fall further and may result in the need for additional restrictions. 

“Similar to other water companies, NI Water is already taking precautionary measures to protect those reservoirs which are most at risk. These measures include reducing demand on them by reducing the area they supply and bringing in water from other, more plentiful water sources.

“As always, the continuous provision of clean, safe drinking water to all our customers remains our primary objective. By working together to reduce demand, we will preserve the water in our impounding reservoirs and mitigate the prospect of renewed restrictions having to be imposed until our reservoirs are recharged by the return of normal rainfall levels.”

Earlier this month, NI Water had rejected a report claiming the ban was implemented without legal authority.

The company said then: "NI Water would refute any suggestions that it has been in breach of legislation in relation to giving notice of its intention to introduce the hosepipe ban. We believe that the Order, Act 116 of 2006 has been interpreted correctly.

"NI Water is content that the prohibitions contained within the hosepipe ban notice are in line with Article 116. However, bringing the ban in was about seeking the public’s help in reducing demand; it was not about prosecutions."

Author: Robin Hackett, editor, WWT
Topic: Policy & Regulation , Water resources
Tags: Northern Ireland , hosepipe ban , water resource management

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