NI businesses urged to prepare water pipes for cold snap

A campaign aims to encourage householders and businesses to ensure their water systems are in a fit state to withstand the threat of burst pipes during the winter.

The ‘Two Step Pipe Check’ campaign, launched on Friday at Parliament Buildings, will be rolled out on TV, radio, print and billboards. An information leaflet will also be distributed to households and businesses across Northern Ireland.

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has supported the campaign claiming it is crucial for businesses to address potential problems that could arise over the winter.

CBI Northern Ireland assistant regional director Kirsty McManus said: “Businesses should make provisions now to protect their properties over the winter months.

“The threat posed by a cold winter spell and burst or frozen pipes could have serious financial consequences on already squeezed budgets.”

Regional development Minister Danny Kennedy said: “Last year was a mild winter, so the urgency to ensure property is protected may slip to the bottom of the ‘to do’ list. But the threat of a cold winter and burst or frozen pipes is very real.

“At the height of the winter of 2010/11, over 80% of the water lost from burst pipes was on customers’ private pipes.

“Burst pipes can cause serious damage to peoples’ property as well as being a risk to water supplies,” he added.

Edie recently reported that the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) was calling for water companies to adopt these customer-owned water supply pipes. It reasoned that this was where 30% of leakages arise from because many customers were unaware of their responsibility to keep the supply pipe in good condition.

In January 2011 a single burst pipe in a vacant business property lost over 30 million litres of water, according to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) – enough to make 120 million cups of tea.

“The two step pipe check is a call to action which can be done now at very little cost,” said Kennedy.

“Simply check your pipes are protected and if not, take steps to have them well insulated for the coming winter.

Conor McGlone

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