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 was last updated on 26 January 2021.
Northern Ireland Water understands the difficulties their customers may have in paying bills at this time and have some FAQs on their website, Your Bill And Our Charges - Northern Ireland Water (niwater.com). Please do not ignore your water bill, get in touch with Northern Ireland Water and seek an agreeable repayment period. If you are unhappy with any aspect of the service you receive you can contact The Consumer Council for advice and guidance.
To help avoid any surprises and ensure businesses are being billed correctly, The Consumer Council has developed a range of helpful resources for businesses and farmers. The resources include an overview of what to look out for on your water bill, an animated video, and a downloadable guide with further tips
Learn more at www.consumercouncil.org.uk/consumers. You can also watch our short animated video below.
NI Water's free text alert service
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 at www.niwater.com/register-for-keeping-you-informed/.
NI Water's latest position on the provision of water services
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 www.niwater.com/customer-care-register
Further information will be available on the NI Water website www.niwater.com.
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 at www.niwater.com 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 www.niwater.com/bag-it-and-bin-it.
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) mix 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.
NI Water has created a list of some simple tips that homes and businesses can do to protect pipes from freezing during the winter months:
- Wrap up pipes and water tanks with lagging – high street DIY stores have everything you need; the thicker the lagging the better the protection;
- Fix dripping taps – even a small trickle can result in a frozen pipe;
- Find your property’s stop valve and make sure you can turn it off – most are under the kitchen sink - if you have one of our stop valve tags, wrap this around it;
- Keep the name of an approved plumber handy – type in your postcode at www.watersafe.org.uk to find your nearest accredited plumbing business.
You can visit niwater.com/winter-proof-your-home for further advice on how to protect your property this winter.
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 www.niwater.com/bogus-callers.
Reservoirs closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19
NI Water has closed public access to its reservoirs, and any adjoining cafes, toilets and car parks until further notice.
- Silent Valley has reopened with some restrictions. Learn more by visiting www.niwater.com/silent-valley.
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.
- Stop using garden hose pipes and sprinklers. Use a watering can instead of a hose to water plants. A hose uses more water in one hour than the average family uses in the whole day!
- Don’t fill swimming/paddling pools and hot tubs. This is a waste of a precious resource. Filling a 12ft swimming pool in your back yard uses the water for 500 people’s daily handwashing.
- 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
- 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
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 see www.niwater.com/education
Download the H20 worksheets for puzzles and games on all things water by visiting www.niwater.com.
Enter the NI Water ‘We use how much water?’ poster competition to be in with the chance of winning some great prizes. Details of how to enter can be found on the niwater website
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 on www.niwater.com 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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;
- If plumbers are required to make any changes or repairs to the plumbing system, a list of contacts can be accessed at the WaterSafe website.
- 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.