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Mallon had to divert millions to avoid water crisis - Energy And Water Development Corp

Mallon had to divert millions to avoid water crisis

Millions of pounds had to be diverted urgently to prevent a crisis in Northern Ireland Water, it has been learned.

nfrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon admitted other projects were axed because “the situation was so critical”.

“I forewent doing other things to ensure that we internally reallocated money to Northern Ireland Water,” the SDLP Minister added.

And her permanent secretary Katrina Godrey added: “We were exceptionally concerned at the potential for NI Water to run out of money. We moved heaven and earth.”

They were responding to Jonathan Buckley, chair of the Assembly committee which monitors Ms Mallon and her Department, who said officials had warned of fears that water supplies could be turned off at schools and hospitals.

And now Mr Buckley has demanded a more robust financial strategy to stop NI Water from stumbling from one crisis to the next.

NI Water however warned it will need a “full allocation” this year and the future “if we are to continue to viably operate the water and sewerage services required by customers”.

The backdrop to the issue was the unprecedented increase in global energy prices, with NI Water the largest single electricity user in the province.

The Department reallocated £2.7m and an additional £1.8m was transferred by the Department of Finance as well as NI Water finding its own savings of £1.6m.

And then a further £13m was earmarked for the Department in the January monitoring round of cash unspent across all Departments.

Mr Buckley said, however: “I recognise the difficulties facing NI Water particularly given the current environment regarding rising energy costs.

“There must be a sustainable long-term funding strategy and model in place to ensure continuity and give confidence to both service users and potential inward investors. Simply surviving from one monetary round to another will simply no longer cut it.”

A spokesperson for NI Water confirmed the Department “was able to secure the operational funding needed to close the funding gap for this financial year.”

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