Profit boost for Northern Ireland Water
An efficiency drive has seen profits at Northern Ireland Water (NIW) increase from £57.9m to £80.5m for the full year to March 31 2011, a year which also saw sales increase to £403m up from £352m in the previous year.
The performance comes in spite of the big freeze, which saw NIW heavily criticised for a lack of preparation in handling a crisis of this size, failing to take leadership and for a break down in communication.
The company has been working hard on improvements since then. However, leakage is an ongoing concern and NIW admits in its annual report that it missed its own leakage targets by an average of 2million litres a day (Mld), resulting in an average leakage figure of 177.0Mld for the year ending March 2011.
To improve on these figures, NIW invested £157m in infrastructure projects over 2010-2011, with some of the investment going toward the upgrade of processes and systems used to measure and report leaks.
However, best quality in the report found drinking water compliance to have risen over the past four years, with mean zonal compliance improving from 99.74% in 2009 to 99.81% in 2010 - the highest compliance level recorded in Northern Ireland to date.
The improvements have been attributed to NIW's capital investment of more than £180m, with £110m coming from a government loan, to upgrade its water treatment works and as part of its mains rehabilitation programme.
NIW has invested in excess of £1.1bn since April 2007 and has scheduled significant further investment of £337m by March 31 2013, while it also plans to invest significantly in the coming year by investing a further £189m into infrastructure and implementing improvements.
Meanwhile, as one of Northern Ireland's largest energy users, with an annual usage of 302GW, energy procurement is at the top of its efficiencies list going forward.
As a result, renewable energy is also on NIW's agenda with a planning application having been submitted for a potential wind turbine development at one of its waste treatment sites.
Commenting on the results, NIW Chairman, Sean Hogan said: ""NI Water is delighted to report significant progress in delivering efficiencies in the business, contributing towards the delivery of increased profits for reinvestment in our infrastructure.
"We will continue to invest in our services, with £337m of investment planned over the remainder of the PC10 period. This investment is intended to deliver real benefits for our customers, our environment and our local economy.''