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Lough Fea water supply levels fear

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

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SERIOUS fears remain over water levels at Lough Fea as the heatwave continues to affect reservoirs in Mid-Ulster, despite the national hosepipe ban still being in place.
The levels at the lough which serves the Cookstown district has left residents fearful of a disruption, or total loss of services as the Met Office expect the dry and hot conditions to continue well into next week.
Due to the high demand for treated water, which is 20% higher than normal, there is an added strain on resources which, it is believed, could cause interruptions to supply.
In a statement to the Mid-Ulster Courier regarding the Lough Fea reserve, NI Water urged residents to limit their use of water to the essentials in order to prevent a very real risk of shortages.
“NI Water will continue to monitor levels and take measures to control the abstraction from the dam depending on the water level and the time of year," a NI Water spokesperson said.
“A loss of water supply for households is a completely avoidable situation. However, if people continue to waste water it will become a reality. If everyone simply restricts unnecessary use of water, there will be plenty for everyone."
Despite NI Water advising a majority have curbed their water use in the district, the company has issued a warning to those who have taken an abhorrent nature to the ban.
NI Water confirmed it has dealt with 18 incidents of fire hydrant abuse since Friday 29th June, including call outs to pumps in Draperstown and Magherafelt.
In a statement slamming the abuse, NI Water said: "Some may see it as 'harmless fun' by kids, but the reality is, as they play in the water, homes and businesses are suffering low water pressure or no water at all.
“NI Water would appeal to the community and political representatives to continue to support us in tackling this issue. The whole community needs to help us put a stop to this behaviour before the unthinkable scenario occurs where a fire breaks out and there is no water for the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service to deal with the fire."
Despite the demand levels for treated water dropping from 30% in the last few days, partly thanks to the first hosepipe ban in Northern Ireland since 1995, NI Water have reminded residents to continue acting responsibly.
“We are seeing a situation that is continuing to improve and the demand on water supply is reducing. We believes this is down to the sheer good will of the public who have avoided the hosepipe and whom we hope, have developed lifelong water saving habits.
“The dedication of our staff during this period to repair leaks, burst water mains and who manned our water treatment works 24/7 has also greatly added to this progress.
“What we don't want, is for people to become complacent, the hosepipe ban is still in place and will be for a while yet. It will not be lifted until we are content we can meet the supply needs of everyone. The ongoing dry weather is out of our control and that means we are unable to predict what the future holds for our raw water supplies, it is therefore essential we all look at adopting water saving habits as part of our day to day lives now and in the future," stated the spokesperson.
Farmers in particular have struggled in the challenging conditions, and the Ulster Farmers' Union (UFU) is calling on the public to support NI Water's call to reduce water consumption in order to protect resources for vital services and sectors such as agriculture, which relies on water for animal welfare and food production.
UFU president, Ivor Ferguson said: "As this prolonged spell of hot weather continues, it's essential that all farm animals have an adequate supply of water. Even a temporary shortage would have a devastating effect on animal welfare."
NI Water CEO Sara Venning added: "Farmers need more water at this time to ensure they can feed their livestock. We are asking people to heed the hosepipe ban and stop non-essential water use to ensure the sectors that need more will have it. In recent days, our treatment works have been operating at near maximum levels with a 30% increase in demand."
A hosepipe ban came into force at 6:00pm on Friday 29th June with the following activities being prohibited until the ban is lifted: Watering a garden using a hosepipe; Watering outdoor plants on domestic or other non-commercial premises using a hosepipe; Drawing water, using a hosepipe for domestic recreational use; Filling or maintaining a domestic swimming or paddling pool using a hosepipe; Filling or maintaining a domestic pond using a hosepipe; Cleaning a private leisure boat using a hosepipe; Cleaning a private motor vehicle using a hosepipe; Cleaning walls or windows of domestic premises using a hosepipe; Cleaning paths or patios of domestic or other non-commercial premises using a hosepipe;
NI Water CEO Sara Venning concluded: "The hosepipe ban is in place to protect the public against the increased threat of supply interruptions. It is essential that we all work together to reduce the unprecedented levels of demand on our networks."

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