December 3, 2021

Soaring electricity costs ‘risk sustainability of water and sewerage services’

Soaring electricity costs ‘risk sustainability of water and sewerage services’


Rising energy costs have placed the sustainability of Northern Ireland’s water and sewerage infrastructure under extreme pressure, Stormont’s Infrastructure Minister has warned.

ichola Mallon told the Assembly that Northern Ireland Water, the water and sewerage system operator, is the biggest electricity consumer in the region, and that soaring costs had led to a budget shortfall in the current financial year.

The minister was answering a question from Alliance MLA Andrew Muir, who raised concerns about the amount of money NI Water had received in a recent Stormont monitoring round.

Mr Muir said: “It has been detailed that the resultant impact from that is potential pollution and also potential issues with regard to the quality of water from the tap.

The impact of rising energy costs has placed the sustainability of an effective and efficient water and sewerage service under extreme pressureNichola Mallon

“What is the minister doing to address this?”

Ms Mallon said: “Northern Ireland Water is the largest electricity consumer in Northern Ireland and as a consequence of rising power costs, Northern Ireland Water is reporting an increase of £19.7 million to try to cover these energy rises.

“Northern Ireland Water submitted a bid for this amount in October monitoring. However, it was allocated only an additional £1.5 million resource budget.

“Northern Ireland Water is also indicating that should power costs remain at record high levels then there could be a further £5 million resource pressure before the end of this financial year.”

The minister continued: “The impact of the constrained October monitoring outcome significantly increases the risk of being able to deliver core services in the event that NI Water cannot be sufficiently funded for the remainder of this financial year.

“The impact of rising energy costs has placed the sustainability of an effective and efficient water and sewerage service under extreme pressure.

“Living within the current budget allocations within this period of unprecedented rising energy costs significantly increases the possibility that there could be a detrimental impact to the delivery of this essential public health activity.”

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Nichola Mallon said NI Water needed further funding to avoid a ‘detrimental impact’ on services (Rui Vieira/PA)

Ms Mallon added: “With just over four months of the financial year remaining it is clear that this level of pressure cannot be absorbed without serious consequences and major impacts.

“I am engaging with the Minister for Finance and other Executive colleagues to ensure they are fully aware of the consequences of the decision not to allocate the required funding to NI Water.”

Mr Muir responded: “I find it incredible just a few weeks after Cop26 that we are debating these issues around funding for water and sewerage infrastructure.”

NI Water is government-owned and funded by the block grant provided to Stormont by the Treasury.



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