21/07/2021

Infrastructure Minister Backs Call To Urgently Reduce Water Usage

Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon has reiterated a call for urgent action on reducing water usage in an effort to protect supplies as the Met Office issues the first ever amber warning for extreme heat in Northern Ireland.

She is also calling on everyone to consider if journeys are necessary given the potential for transport disruption.

The warning is in place from 08.00 today, Wednesday 21 July until 23.59 on Friday 23 July 2021 with day time temperatures peaking on Wednesday and Thursday and high overnight temperatures also expected before they start to fall on Friday.

Minister Mallon said: "These extremely high temperatures mean that demand for water has significantly increased with demand outstripping supply. NI Water is working hard to mitigate any impacts from this but we all have a role to play. I am appealing to everyone to please reduce unnecessary use to protect supplies. If everyone simply uses the water they actually need, there will be plenty for everyone."

The Minister also urged the public to consider if their journey is necessary given the potential risk of delays on the rail and road network.

The Minister continued: "In light of the current high temperatures, along with the ongoing pandemic, I would remind the public to avoid visiting places where there is a chance that large numbers of people will gather and crowds will form. This is particularly important as we know that delays are likely and this may result in people being in cars or on public transport for an extended period of time which can be very uncomfortable in very hot weather.
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"We know that the very high temperatures can have an impact on the rail network with track speeds reduced causing delays to services. In recent days we have seen large numbers of people flocking to beauty spots across Northern Ireland. While I understand that people want to enjoy the good weather, health and safety must be of paramount importance. Translink will work to provide some additional capacity on the busiest routes where possible however I would strongly urge the public to consider if their journey is necessary over the coming days. If you are using public transport, including the Strangford and Rathlin ferries, please remember that the rules requiring face coverings remain in place for everyone's protection.

"The high temperatures can also have an impact on the road network. Recent weather has led to a rise in road surface temperatures and with limited cooling at night, the bitumen in some roads has softened. The Department has been spreading fine dust/grit on the worst affected roads and will continue to do so as necessary. The situation is being monitored and road users should exercise due care and attention at all times. Problems with the roads can be reported at www.nidirect.gov.uk/services/report-pothole and select 'Other surface defect.'

"We are also aware that over recent days there have been reports of problematic parking at coastal areas. I would remind everyone to park in a considerate and responsible manner when visiting local attractions and beauty spots in order to keep all road users, visitors and local residents safe.

"I would also like to place on record my thanks to all of the operational teams who are out there on the ground working in these extreme conditions to ensure we maximise our water supplies and keep our transport moving."

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