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  • by Trevor Loveday

Northern Ireland consults on new draft resource plan

Northern Ireland Water has published its draft plan for how it will make sure there is enough water to meet future needs – available for public consultation for nine weeks, starting on 22 March 2024.

Northern Ireland Water said its 150-page draft Water Resource & Supply Resilience Plan “takes into account changes in population, housing, water usage and incorporates any predicted changes to our climate.” This, the company said, included how water supplies would be maintained during critical periods such as severe winters and drought, and also includes a drought plan.

The company said it had made “significant changes in how the plan was developed from the previous version which was launched in 2020.”

Among the changes are:

  • a longer-term planning horizon from 25 to 50 years; 

  • an “increased focus on environmental sustainability in support of carbon Net Zero targets”; and

  • a Strategic Environmental Assessment looking at the plan’s potential impact on the environment.

The company said it had made “significant improvements in water resilience for customers since the last plan was launched”.

The draft plan, according to Northern Ireland Water, aims to build on other areas, ensuring continued high levels of leakage detection, sustained investment in water mains and water efficiency initiatives.

The water company enlisted stakeholders’ input for the draft plan, including the Department for Infrastructure, the Utility Regulator, the Drinking Water Inspectorate, the Northern Ireland Environment Agency and the Consumer Council for Northern Ireland.

Recommendations in the consultation draft include:

  • investigation into changes in technology that may lead to more cost effective leakage reduction;

  • monitoring changes in UK Water Industry best practice in areas related to Water Resource Management and Drought planning, including –

    • environmental destination,

    • levels of service,

    • extreme events (freeze thaw/drought),

    • climate change;

  • reviewing the impact of rising cost of carbon emissions in line with Northern Ireland’s Water’s Climate Change Strategy; and

  • implementing a system for collecting data on water treatment works outages with further investigation and data collection on operational rules, storage control curves for impounded reservoirs and exact intake arrangement details to support the next round of planning. 

Contributions to the consultation are made via an online survey


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