14th May 2020

Coronavirus: Provision of Water in Northern Ireland

Information about the impact of COVID-19 (coronavirus) to the provision of water in Northern Ireland and updates from NI Water.

The information on this page is correct as of 14 May 2020.

NI Water's latest position on the provision of water services

NI Water has assured the public that it is confident it is taking all the necessary steps to ensure services will be maintained during the current outbreak of COVID-19. NI Water's front-line workers and contractors will still be on site across Northern Ireland to maintain essential services for consumers.

NI Water has stated that its priority is to ensure the continued provision of water and wastewater services to customers while maintaining the safety and wellbeing of staff.

NI Water is contacting individuals on its Customer Care Register and providing bottled water should there be an interruption to supply. If you would like more information or you can join the register here.

Further information will be available on the NI Water website here.

Essential workers

The Government has officially designated water and sewerage staff as ‘key workers’ in a critical public service. NI Water services have never been more essential to the health and wellbeing of our customers than now, and we would appeal to the public to be supportive of our workers during this difficult time. If you see their teams out working, please be assured that this is only to ensure they can meet your water and wastewater needs. They are all practising social distancing – their priority is to keep customers and colleagues safe. So please keep your distance and their workers will carry on with their essential work for you.

Keeping informed

NI Water is committed to improving the service they provide to their customers. If something affecting you or your property occurs, you need to know about it as soon as possible.

You can register you mobile phone number here so they can contact you if there is an issue in your area.

The “Keeping You Informed” service is totally free, easy to register for, and you only get messages about your NI Water services.

Avoiding blocked pipes

Only flush toilet paper

NI Water has called for the public to assist them in keeping the sewer network clear by only flushing toilet roll. The move comes as people are buying and using more wet wipes, which can block pipes if flushed down the toilet.

Further information is available here.

Dispose of fats, oils and grease properly

With more people cooking at home NI Water would like to remind customers to dispose of fat, oil and grease in an appropriate manner (cooled and then put in the bin). If poured down the sink fat, oil and grease (FOG) mixes with wipes and other inappropriate items flushed down the toilet creating fatbergs that block sewers and can cause sewage to flood homes, streets and public spaces.

Avoiding bogus callers

NI Water is urging customers to be extra vigilant about bogus callers coming to their home who claim to work for NI Water.

If a caller comes to your door claiming to be from NI Water, always ask to see their ID as all NI Water staff carry ID cards. Further information is available on NI Water's website here.

Reservoirs closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19

NI Water has closing public access to its reservoirs, and any adjoining cafes, toilets and car parks until further notice.

Protect your business or property while closed

NI Water is advising non-domestic customers to be mindful of their water needs during the COVID19 outbreak. 

With many properties closing their doors for a period of time and students leaving rented accommodation, NI Water is asking businesses and property owners to check their water supply is safely secured before they lock up. Leaking or burst pipes can have significant implications for your business. Securing your water supply is something you can do until your doors open again. 

Non-domestic customers should turn off all non-essential water in buildings which are not going to be in use for a period of time, including, for example, the automatic flushing of urinals. Large leaks that go undetected can have a major impact on water supplies that are essential for the health and well-being of all their customers.  

Visit our Business page for further advice for businesses during the coronavirus outbreak. 

Tips to save water

Around 155 litres of water are used by each person everyday. Below are some simple tips to help use less water.

  • Only boil as much water as you need in your kettle - Overfilling can use twice as much energy and water, every time you boil.
  • Try to only turn on your washing machine for a full load - Two half loads uses more water than one full load.
  • Put a jug of tap water into the fridge - This uses less water than letting the tap run cold each time you want a drink.
  • Fill a watering can or attach a trigger nozzle if you are in the garden watering your plants - Also, watering early in the morning or late in the afternoon will reduce evaporation.
  • Try the 4 minute shower challenge - To try and save water, put on your favourite 4 minute song and see if you can finish before the end.
  • Fix your leaking taps - A dripping tap can waste more than 60 litres of water per week.
  • Use a bowl for washing vegetables - As a bonus, you can use this water to water your plants afterwards.
  • Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth - A running tap can use 6 litres of water per minute.

Activities for the kids

NI Water has a range of activities that will keep your kids entertained whilst also enhancing their learning. For games, quizzes and lots of fun facts, please click here.

Download the H20 worksheets for puzzles and games on all things water by clicking here.

Poster competition

Enter the NI Water ‘Don’t Feed the Fatberg’ poster competition to be in with the chance of winning some great prizes. Details of how to enter can be found here.

Sewer Detectives quiz

Someone in your area has been flushing the wrong things down the loo! NI Water wants to stop it and needs your help! Help keep the sewers flowing and sniff out the culprits. Complete the questionnaire here to win a water goodie bag.

Keeping yourself hydrated

Keeping ourselves healthy has never been more important. NI Water teams are working hard to ensure high quality water keeps flowing. We all know drinking water is a great way to keep you healthy but are you drinking enough? Take the 7-day hydration challenge to improve your health and wellbeing not only now but for the future.

Day 1: Find out how much water you should be drinking a day

6-8 glasses of water is only a general guidance but how much water you should be drinking a day depends on a number of factors including your gender, age, height, weight, daily activity and diet.

Day 2: Start tracking

Start keeping a note of your fluid intake to ensure you are reaching your daily target.

Day 3: Reach for water first

Water is calorie, fat and sugar free and tasteless. If simple water isn’t for you why not try adding sliced ginger, mint, lemon or limes?

Day 4. Add in the right calorie containing drinks and remove the wrong ones

Add in, low fat milk or low fat diary free alternative, fruit juice, smoothies, tea/coffee

Avoid, flavoured coffees, sports drinks, fizzy juice, alcohol

Day 5: Don’t just drink your water. Eat it too.

Eating plenty of fruit and vegetables is also a great way to increase you water intake.

Day 6: Drink water throughout the day

Try and spread you intake of water evenly throughout the day. Start you day right with a glass of water and take one to bed with you at night. Keep you water bottle topped up and take sips throughout the day.

Day 7: Keep up the good work

Congratulations you’ve finished the first week of your new hydration habits. Now to keep up the good work.

Water Bills

NI Water has delayed water billing for businesses and farmers. Click here to read more.  

For more information on water for businesses, visit our Business page. 

Turning your taps on safely after lockdown

NI Water has issued guidance for businesses, building owners, manager and landlords, and for those who operate water or refill fountains in their premises for when they re-open following lockdown. 

Following the restrictions placed on businesses and the public by Government in mid-March 2020, to restrict the spread of coronavirus, many premises had to close suddenly. As a result, many drinking water systems have been left stagnant over this period due to a low turnover of mains water or water in storage. This could have resulted in water in internal plumbing systems warming up, microbiological regrowth or an increased uptake of plumbing metals; thus the risk of potential water quality issues.  

Click on the drop-down menu below to read NI Water's guidance. 

NI Water's advice

  1. To ensure that the water in the plumbing systems is fresh, run all taps individually, starting with the tap nearest to where the water enters the building and moving systematically to the most distant outlet. It should be sufficient to run until the water is clear and feels cool to the touch. Building owners should also be mindful of the risks to all non-drinking water systems as well such as heating systems.
  2. Where water is supplied from storage, storage cisterns should be emptied and filled with water direct from the incoming supply, before the taps are flushed; flushing should be carried out in a manner which minimises aerosol generation. For example, removing shower heads prior to flushing, to reduce the risks of Legionella transmission. Safety considerations should be made for those flushing including appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE); ensure that all appliances are also thoroughly flushed through before use, using manufacturer’s instruction manual.
  3. If the property has any internal filters or water softeners, these should be checked to ensure they are working correctly as outlined in the manufacturer’s instruction manual;
  4. If plumbers are required to make any changes or repairs to the plumbing system, a list of contacts can be accessed at WaterSafe
  5. For larger buildings, those with tanks, showers, water heaters and more complex pipework the expectation is likely to be for more extensive flushing followed by cleaning and disinfection. If you have a complex plumbing system you should ensure you have a competent person to oversee this work.