'We must act now to protect water supplies' urges NI Water
19 June 2020
NI Water is issuing a direct appeal to the public to act now to protect water supplies, following confirmation from the Met Office that this spring was the second driest since the beginning of the twentieth century.
Since the beginning of lockdown, the company has seen a significant rise in the amount of water used in the home. This rise, coupled with the dry weather, has contributed to a natural drop in water levels in reservoirs.
Increased household use has not been offset by the closure of businesses, as many high-water users, such as the agri-food sector, factories etc, have been able to stay operational during this time.
Local Water Plant Manager Shaun Kelly comments:
"This recent dry spell, which has been breaking records, coupled with more people at home using water, has resulted in a significant drop in our water levels. Some of the impounding reservoirs that serve the Co L/Derry area, I have not seen this low in years. For example, Altnaheglish Reservoir is sitting at 71%. We have not seen this reservoir that low in June since 1995.
"The recent rain we have experienced is simply not enough to bring the levels back up. We would need a period of reasonably wet weather before we would see a significant change in the levels.
"There are a number of steps NI Water can take to alleviate the stress on reservoirs, including a hosepipe ban. However, the key to conserving water is public action now. How we all use our water now will have a massive impact on our water levels during the summer months and whether a hosepipe ban will be required.
"For example, we know from the increase in our night usage some customers are leaving sprinklers and hoses on overnight; we are appealing to them to stop. A sprinkler left on overnight is enough to meet the daily water needs of 13 families. We are also asking people to think before they use their pressure washer. Could the task be put off until we are out of this dry period?
"However, the easiest way for everyone to save a little water and make a big difference is through normal household tasks. If each of us turned off the tap when brushing our teeth, in a month we would save enough water for the daily hand-washing of 67 people.
"Similarly, if you put a jug of water into the fridge rather than running the tap, those actions alone would save approximately 18 litres per day. This is enough to keep nine people hydrated for a whole day!
"We want everyone to enjoy their home and garden, we just need people to think about how they use their water and if what they are doing is essential.