100,000 homes without water as reservoirs dry up


MORE than 100,000 homes in Northern Ireland were without water yesterday after rationing was introduced as reservoirs emptied.

The Water Service said about 20 per cent of the North's 600,000 homes were affected by rota cuts, varying in duration from two to three hours in some areas up to 12 hours in others.

Thousands more were without water because of burst pipes and tankers were being used to deliver water to private homes and farms worst affected.

The public was warned that it could be several days before supplies are back to normal.

The big thaw following the Christmas freeze saw pipes burst and water mains fracture on a scale never seen before. Rota rationing was introduced by the Department of Environment Water Service in a bid to replenish supplies in reservoirs. Millions of gallons have been lost through burst pipes following the coldest December on record, during which temperatures plunged below -14C.

The director of the Water Executive, Mr Henry Plester, said: "Water demand is up by between 100 per cent and 300 per cent, more in some cases, and this has forced the Water Service into making rota cuts to conserve supplies."

He said his staff and private plumbers were working around the clock, but warned: "There is now a shortage of plumbing fittings in Northern Ireland." Some plumbers' merchants have been specially opened by the Water Service to restock plumbers.