Is your farm ‘lagging’ behind

NI Water has launched its annual winter campaign and together with the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU), are urging the farming community to check they are not ‘lagging’ behind when it comes to protecting pipework.

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 11th December 2021, 9:55 am

Farmers are advised to have their pipes well insulated to protect against the damage burst pipes can do. An essential action to protect their water supply and that of their neighbours.

Des Nevin, NI Water’s Director of Customer and Operations, comments: “With the continued impact of Covid-19 on our community, it is more vital than ever that householders, landlords, farms and businesses are ready for winter. This means taking action now to ensure pipes are well insulated and everyone in the property knows where the stop valve is located. It is also vital you have a plan to ensure your property is protected if it has to close suddenly for a period of time or through the holiday period.

“Over 60 percent of NI Water’s non domestic customers are classified as farms, so it is an important consumer group for us. Farms can also be among our most vulnerable group if they lose their water supply.

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“The effects of dealing with the aftermath of a burst pipe on a farm cannot be underestimated. Water is the single most important requirement for livestock. On a dairy farm, livestock drinking water accounts for between 50 percent and 75 percent of the farm’s water usage. It is therefore vital farmers have a clean constant supply of water.

“On a wider scale, the impact of thousands of litres of water pouring out of burst water pipes can put a huge strain on the distribution network. The Covid-19 crisis has shone a light directly on how vital clean water and sanitation are to everyone.”

UFU deputy president William Irvine said: “The UFU is pleased to work in conjunction with NI Water to encourage farmers to prepare for the winter months ahead. As the temperature is starting to drop, now is the time to check pipes and water fittings, taking the necessary steps to ensure farms are protected against cold weather. Water is a daily necessity for farm businesses across Northern Ireland. It is vital for keeping housed animals hydrated during the winter months, maintaining hygiene within farm facilities such as milking parlours and for washing machinery. Any disruption to the water system can cause serious difficulties for our farmers.”

There are a number of ways farmers can protect their property including:

- Check meters on a regular basis. A higher reading may indicate a leak which should be located and repaired as quickly as possible;

- Ensure that you have good understanding of the layout of pipework within your land;

- Consider mapping the line of the pipework, which can extend over several acres of land;

- Know where your stop valves are located;

- Ideally, install a number of stop valves to isolate water supply to disused areas of the farm during the winter months;

- Check for and repair any leakage promptly to reduce water bills, which are a major liability for a working farm;

- Inspect remote troughs which may not be used at this time of year, particularly the exposed pipe leading into the trough; if cattle are inside consider turning the supply to the trough off;

- Ensure all underground pipes are buried 750 millimetres below ground level.

- Ensure any pipes within buildings are insulated.

- Examine the adequacy of storage in the event of a supply problem. NI Water recommends at least 24 hours storage.