Naomi Long MLA said: “Water hydrant vandalism has cost the local taxpayer over one hundred thousand pounds this Summer alone. This amount does not take into account the cost of the treatment of the massive amount of water lost through these broken hydrants.
“Vandals are in effect pouring thousands of pounds of taxpayers money down the drain.
“The environmental implications of this vandalism are also disgraceful. Water is a scarce enough resource and should never be wasted.
“During the Summer, many people here make the effort to conserve water by not using hosepipes. However, all their efforts are in vain as such vandalism wastes millions of litres of water, as was the case this Summer.
“Vandals are not only creating financial and environmental problems, but are also creating a major public safety risk because these hydrants are used by the Fire Service to gain water to fight fires. Damaged hydrants, which are leaking massive amounts of water, are lowering water pressure thus stopping the pressure required to fight fires effectively.
“The possible knock -on effect of this vandalism is that the unfair water charges which might be forced upon us will increase to even higher levels. If this issue is not tackled now, the money raised by the proposed tap tax will have to go towards paying for hydrant repair bills as well as general water infrastructure improvements.”