Homes across NI without water

Published Monday, 27 December 2010
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Thousands of families across Northern Ireland have been left without mains water due to burst pipes, and there have been warnings that some parts could wait up to two days before the supply is restored.

In the past five days NI Water has received 14,000 calls from households and businesses as frozen pipes begin to thaw and breakages show.

One of the hardest hit areas is Coalisland in Co Tyrone, where almost every home is without water due to a nearby reservoir running dry.

Residents are without water for drinking, cooking, flushing toilets or heating, and are told it could take 48 hours before the problem is fixed.

Local man Dessie Donnelly is amongst those affected. He has told UTV his wife is seriously ill on the waiting list for a liver transplant.

"She can't cope with this at all," Mr Donnelly said. "She's in bed all the time trying to keep warm. Her blood count has dropped to 11, if it drops another point, she'll be in hospital for dialysis."

Mid Ulster MLA Francie Molloy says he understands it may take at least two days for the supply to refill.

"We're told the reservoir is completely dry," he told UTV. "The supply into it is also fractured in a number of ways, which means it's not filling up again and the drain out of it means there's no supply coming in and unlikely for 48 hours in some cases."

NI Water has been responding to the problem over the past few weeks, but spokesman Ian Glass says there has been an "unprecedented" number of bursts reported.

"This is the worst I've ever experienced in my time with Northern Ireland Water," he told UTV. "We have repaired 400-500 bursts in the last couple of weeks. The demand on supply is unprecedented from burst pipes and people running taps."

The company has been providing bottled water from stations in Londonderry, Belfast, Craigavon, Strabane and other locations around Northern Ireland on Monday.

Extra call-centre staff have been brought in across the board to deal with an influx of calls to the emergency line.

A statement said: "Due to the unprecedented high volume of calls a number of customers have experienced a longer waiting time than usual and we apologise for this inconvenience."

The minister for Regional Development, Conor Murphy, says he has been monitoring the situation.

"I have been receiving on-going updates from NI Water on how it is dealing with interruptions to water supplies across a number of areas as a result of the ongoing thaw," a statement from the minister said.

"The Chief Executive has informed me they have brought in extra call handlers to deal with the volume of calls and that staff are working around the clock to repair bursts to water mains and restore water supplies to their customers, as quickly as possible."

Work is currently being carried out in the Newry area, Armagh city and Belfast, with water expected to be restored to these parts by Monday evening.

"Our teams are on site and working as quickly as possible to repair these bursts and restore water supply to customers," a statement from NI Water said.

"To enable our staff to carry out essential repairs on these burst water mains & recharge the water network, some customers in these areas may experience a temporary loss of supply or drop in water pressure."

Meanwhile the Roads Service said no salting operations have been carried out overnight as the remaining slush thaws.

The northbound onslip to the M2 motorway at Templepatrick was closed for a time on Monday morning due to ice, but has now reopened.

Many gullies remain blocked with frozen ice resulting in accumulation of excess water on many routes, and drivers are advised to remain extremely vigilant.

© UTV News
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121 Comments
Michael in Dungannon wrote (1,305 days ago):
If we were a third world country I could understand it...But we arnt.Its just absolutely typical of life today..when something major crops up, the blame game starts.Its everyone elses fault except mine...People need water,its not rocket science.Come next May they will all be creeping round the doors looking for votes and promising us all sorts..I wish Bob Geldof was in charge of all this.He helped feed Africa and would wipe the floor with any of the losers charged with sorting this debacle out.
Mary Bailey in Portballintrae wrote (1,306 days ago):
People in Portballintrae need water too.After all we are ratepayers too.Some of us having to suffer four days without water.Absolute nightmare
Maureen McClune in CARRICKFERGUS wrote (1,306 days ago):
We've been blessed in Carrickfergus with a normal water supply. If there are families in the Belfast area who need some washing done, my friends and I would like to help.
Kate in FINAGHY ROAD SOUTH wrote (1,306 days ago):
Our water in the kitchen has just come on. First time in 4 days. Upstairs still out but will hopefully follow suit so we can have the long awaited shower. Filling containers just in case. May be the £250,000 paid to the Chief Executive could be better spent on upgrading the service.
peter corry in crumlin wrote (1,306 days ago):
I have been without water now since about1900hrs on sunday 26th december it is now 0900 on thursday 30th december and still no running water i dont blame anyone for this problem the only problem i have is the lack of an emergancy plan that is in place. Trying to get through to the ni water line was impossiable for the first 2 days and when i did was told didnt know when i would be reconnected but i could go to belfast to pick up some bottled water. I think there should have been a water station in each area that had a problem with water and should not have to travel 15 miles to get some. the other thing is we are paying for this service through our rates as a percentage of that goes towards the water service how come we still have to pay full rates for a service that we are not receiving. as i said no one is to blame for the problems that we have had it can be put down to a natural disaster but how they have delt with it someone does need to answer for that
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