01st September 2009

Consumer Council statement regarding Bank Holiday Monday floods:

Heavy rain over the Bank Holiday weekend resulted in localised flooding throughout Northern Ireland and in turn, many homes were left devastated by floodwater.

Kathy Graham, Head of Water at the Consumer Council said:

“To see your home ruined in this way is heartbreaking and the Consumer Council sympathises with all those affected.  Today, many people are left clearing up the mess of a drainage and sewerage system that clearly can’t cope with heavy rain.  When those affected contacted the Flooding Incident Line (FIL), promoted as a 24/7 service to report flooding, they were left hanging on the telephone for up to 25 minutes.  For the Department of Finance and Personnel to state that the FIL was understaffed over a weekend of continuous heavy rain, is unacceptable.  We are calling for a review of how the FIL is staffed and operated.

“The issue of an ineffective drainage and sewerage system that cannot cope with heavy rainfall is an ongoing problem.  The Consumer Council calls on NI Water to accelerate its programme of works[1] to address the persistent flooding these households endure every time there is a heavy downpour.

“The other issue at play is the effect floodwater has on house and contents insurance.  When a consumer’s home is ruined by floodwater, their house and contents insurance and the amount of excess on their policy soars.  This is the third year in a row that some of these households have been affected and this issue must be addressed through coordinated effort by all the agencies involved.  In the interim, consumers just want this problem fixed.  They do not want raw sewage entering their home.  They want public services that are effective and work for them.

“The Consumer Council represents water and sewerage users here and we have the legal power to investigate complaints on their behalf.   We have contacted the constituency offices of local representatives in the areas worst affected to get a full understanding of how bad the situation is and what is being done.  We would urge anyone who feels unhappy with how their flooding complaint was handled by NI Water to contact us on 0800 121 6022 or [email protected].”


  1. Consumer Council media contact: Gráinne Duffy, telephone, 028 9067 4813 or e-mail, [email protected]
  2. The Consumer Council is an independent consumer organisation, working to bring about change to benefit Northern Ireland’s consumers. The Council campaigns for high standards of service and protection and a fair deal for all. It also carries out research, gives advice and publishes reports and other publications. It deals with individual complaints about buses, trains, planes, ferries, natural gas, electricity, coal and water.
  3. For more information, visit our website at www.consumercouncil.org.uk

[1] Specific projects to address out of sewer flooding such as Belfast Sewers Project.  In NI Water's Business Plan for the next three years, it will take steps to prevent the flooding of homes in known flooding hotspots.