Changes at Northern Ireland Water following Christmas freeze

BELFAST, Northern Ireland, Jan. 12, 2012 -- Government-owned Northern Ireland Water (NIW) has set out proposals to spend hundreds of millions of pounds on infrastructure, immediately after freezing conditions in the UK led to burst pipes and tens of thousands of homes and businesses without water during the Christmas period...

Jan 12th, 2011

BELFAST, Northern Ireland, Jan. 12, 2012 -- Government-owned Northern Ireland Water (NIW) has set out proposals to spend £577 million on infrastructure, immediately after freezing conditions in the UK led to burst pipes and tens of thousands of homes and businesses without water during the Christmas period.

The utility plans to ramp up expenditure to comply with EU guidelines on wastewaterand, as well as the £577.5 million earmarked in capital investment, £615.4 million will be set aside by NIW for operating costs over the next three years.

According to the Belfast Telegraph, the totals formed part of the Price Control (PC10) agreement the firm has made with the Northern Ireland Authority for Utility Regulation.

Laurence MacKenzie, now former chief executive of NIW, told the newspaper the PC10 settlement represents “a significant challenge for the organisation".

NIW revealed on January 5 that MacKenzie tendered his resignation over the organisation’s mishandling of the region’s water crisis.

He said at the time: "I readily accept and recognise that there were aspects of the way in which we [NIW] handled the situation that could have been better."

Current figures suggest almost 40,000 households were left without water as the company was forced to cut off supplies to conserve water levels in the area's reservoirs. Freezing conditions followed by a thaw had serious effects on old and already antiquated water supply systems, causing pipes to leak and burst.

Following the crisis, which has now seen all properties back on supply, a two-stranded investigation in Northern Ireland's burst pipes is due to get underway. These probes will examine MacKenzie's role, as well as the actions taken by NIW during the crisis.

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