Water Cuts Looming As Dry Weather Spell Continues

Minister Mallon calls for the public to use their water wisely as the spell of hot weather continues.

Minister Mallon calls for the public to use their water wisely as the spell of hot weather continues.

Northern Ireland may be heading for a period of water rationing unless the public and businesses cut back on unnecessary waste and use of vital water supplies.

Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon is calling on everyone to use their water wisely by reducing unnecessary water use to protect supplies.

NI Water has advised that demand is currently outstripping supply and that we all need to take steps now to ensure everyone has sufficient water supply for essential hygiene and daily use.

Minister Mallon said: “There has been an increase in water usage over the last few weeks with the recent prolonged dry weather. For example, on Thursday 15 July NI Water put 695 million litres of water into their distribution system – over 120 million litres more than normal.

“With further good weather forecast and the fact we are only in mid-July, we need to act now to protect water levels and prevent interruptions to supply or low pressure.

“There are many small, simple steps that all of us can make to use our water wisely. Over the past year and a half, the need for our precious water supplies has never been more evident in terms of our public health. Every small change can make a big difference when we work together to protect our water supplies – how we use our water can have a massive impact on water levels.

Conserve water now: The Silent Valley Reservoir, County Down. Following a prolonged period of dry weather water levels have dropped to around 66%. It has not been that low since 1995. (Photo: Michael Cooper.)

“A hose for example uses more water in one hour than the average family uses in a whole day. Large swimming pools and pressure washers also use massive amounts of water. 

“NI Water has reported an increase in night usage meaning some customers are leaving sprinklers and hoses on overnight. We want everyone to be able to enjoy their home and garden in the good weather. Please stop and think if what you are doing is essential or if there is something you can do to help protect this precious resource to ensure everyone has access to sufficient supply,” said Minister Mallon.

Public asked to cut water usage amid amber warning for heat

NI Water is calling for urgent action from everyone to reduce their water usage immediately following an amber warning for heat. 

Please reduce unnecessary use to protect supplies. If everyone simply uses the water they actually need, there will be plenty for everyone.

Due to the hot weather and people holidaying at home, demand is outstripping supply. We need to ensure everyone has sufficient water for hygiene and daily use. 

Des Nevin, Director of Customer Operations, said:

“If demand continues at this level it will lead to failures in our network and some customers will lose supply or suffer low pressure. A number of customers over the past few days are already experiencing this, especially those on high ground.

“On Monday 19th July, we put 723 million litres of water into our distribution system, this is over 145 million litres more than normal, equivalent to 1.8million baths!

“We are asking our customers to help us, especially over the next few days when temperatures continue to be high.  We know from the increase in our night usage some customers are leaving sprinklers and hoses on overnight, please stop.

“A hose uses more water in one hour than the average family uses in a whole day. “A pressure washer can also be a massive drain, so please think about whether the task is really essential at the moment.”

“While it is tempting, please avoid using swimming or paddling pools. Filling a 12ft swimming pool uses the same amount of water 500 people use for daily handwashing.  

“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.”

Some of the easiest tips to save water that can make a massive difference include:

Additional Tips for Garden:

  • Lawns are great survivors – a sprinkler can use as much as 1,000 litres of clean drinking water in a single hour; more than a family of four would use in a whole day. Even when they look dry and brown, they’ll spring back with the first heavy rain, so avoid watering them wherever possible.
  • Buy water efficient plants – If you are buying new plants now the garden centres are open look out for water efficient plants that still brighten your garden
  • Be pot savvy – If you’re potting up or planting containers, use ones made from plastic, glazed terracotta or wood. These tend to lose less water than bare terracotta. Bury a short length of pipe into your pot; if you water into the tube the water goes directly to the roots where the plant needs it most
  • Mulch weeds away – Use mulches like bark chips or gravel to retain moisture and keep weeds down

Tips for House:

  • Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth – A running tap can use 6 litres of water per minute.
  • Make full use of your washing machine – Half load programmes on washing machines use more than half the water and energy of a full load, so wait until the machine is full before switching it on.
  • Take shorter showers – Why not challenge yourself and your family to shower one minute quicker? In a year you could save up to 10,000 litres of water!
  • Take a shower instead of a bath – One bath can use up to 100 litres of water, whereas an efficient shower uses under 50 litres. But remember power showers can use more water than baths.
  • Car washing – Avoid washing cars and vans frequently, use a bucket and sponge

NI Water are encouraging customers to sign up to its free text alert service which keeps them updated about anything that may impact on their water supply or any of our other services in the area. Sign up here: