Alliance Infrastructure spokesperson Kellie Armstrong has highlighted how the absence of a functioning Assembly is curtailing NI Water’s development plans across Northern Ireland.
Kellie Armstrong said: “It is a sad fact that most of us take water for granted. We do not think about how it gets into our homes, we do not think about dealing with the wastewater, we do not think about how the system is funded. Because most of the water infrastructure is underground it’s a case of out of sight, out of mind.
“NI Water is responsible for providing our homes and businesses with safe drinkable water and dealing with the wastewater. Unfortunately, over the past fifteen years the capital budget made available to NI Water has not kept pace with the level of investment required to provide increased capacity for residential or business expansion. As a result, in around 70 towns across Northern Ireland, the provision of new homes has been severely restricted due to the inability of water and sewerage services to cope with increased demand. In Saintfield, the provision of new housing has stopped completely.
“Business expansion also places additional pressures on NI Water. The growth of our tourist industry has brought economic benefits but placed increased demands, particularly in Belfast with the development of thousands of new hotel bedrooms. We need to do all we can to support the business community and I support the call for drains before cranes.
“During the current business plan period, 2015/2021, NI Water needed investment of £1.7 billion, but received £900 million, so the improvement programme gets longer. For the next business period, an estimated £2.5 billion will be needed to continue the improvements made to date.
“It is vital that a solution is found to ensure NI Water has the appropriate level of funding to meet the needs of current and future generations. We are now 1000 days without a functioning Assembly and Executive. It is in Stormont where funding decisions need to be taken by locally elected politicians. NI Water has developed innovative solutions to delivering a sustainable service. Alliance believes that we need to get back to work as soon as possible to enable a local Minister to argue for innovative funding solutions for a vital service.”