Alliance seeks NI Water review

The Alliance Party has sought reassurances from Laurence MacKenzie, NI Water Chief Executive Officer in relation to the handling of the water supply crisis in East Belfast and that communication to residents, business owners and schools is improved as a matter of urgency. Alliance representatives have endeavoured to keep local people up to date with constant water supply rotations and have been involved with efforts to deliver water to people.

Naomi Long MP said “My focus during this crisis has been to try to get the best possible information to constituents so that they can prepare for loss of supply and are aware of whether their water loss is due to scheduled rotation or a problem on the network which requires reporting to NI Water and repair. Better information would relieve pressure on the helpline and ensure that bursts, leaks and other problems are reported and addressed more quickly, helping progress towards permanent restoration of supply. This can only happen if the information provided is accessible to people, particularly those who are most vulnerable, detailed enough to be meaningful to residents, and can be taken to be reliable and accurate which to date has generally not been the case.

“We have fed back a large number of constructive suggestions for improvements to the system and, whilst some of those have been taken up, there is still major room for improvement. With another cold spell predicted for later in the week, I want to seek reassurance directly from the Chief Executive that the communication breakdowns experienced will not be repeated in managing any future problems.”

Alliance Cllr Judith Cochrane said: “Whilst the response to this crisis from NI Water has been less than adequate I have seen a fantastic effort on the ground in East Belfast from community groups and individual good neighbours who have worked together to identify older and vulnerable residents and ensure they have emergency supplies without which they would have found themselves in seriously difficult circumstances.”

East Belfast Alliance MLA Chris Lyttle said: “We recognise that NI Water staff have been working extremely hard but there must now be an urgent review of how NI Water prepared for and managed this situation. We need to know what emergency planning was in place in terms of both operational response and communications, and we would like to think that NI Water will want to consider and implement constructive feedback in order to improve its immediate and future response to this crisis.”


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