Continue to conserve water

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With a warm spell forecast for later this month, Northern Ireland Water is reminding everyone of the need to continue to conserve water and protect those who need it, particularly the farming community.

Gary Curran, NI Water’s Head of Metering and Billing says: “Water is the single most important requirement for livestock.

“On a dairy farm, livestock drinking water may account for between 50% and 75% of the farm’s water usage. It is therefore vital farmers have a clean constant supply of water. Farms can also be among our most vulnerable group if they lose their water supply.”

Recent rainfall has been a welcome development and while it has certainly helped farmers and gardeners, County Down has had significantly less rainfall than Fermanagh. Grass growth has been one of the main issues for farmers as the dry spell continues.

Jason Rankin, General Manager of AgriSearch, says: “We have gone from one extreme of weather to another. We had a prolonged period of wet, cold weather through the winter followed by dry, hot weather since May. This has taken its toll on grass especially in County Down.  

“July has seen a total growth of 0.98t DM/ha on the GrassCheck plots, only 44% of the long-term average. Growth this year to date is 2t DM/ha less for counties Down and Armagh (6.1t DM/ha) compared with the rest of Northern Ireland. (8.1t DM/ha). 

“Although grass growth this past week has remained low in eastern parts (Hillsborough = 14kg DM/ha/d), the heavy rainfall in the past few days has allowed good rewetting of soils, supporting more positive grass growth forecasts of 51 and 57kg DM/ha/d for the next two weeks.”

With further warm weather forecast, Northern Ireland Water says continuing to conserve water is key.

Gary Curran, NI Water’s Head of Metering and Billing says: “As always, the continuous provision of clean, safe drinking water to all our customers remains our primary objective. 

“We would remind everyone of the importance of using water wisely; farmers can look after their water supply by checking out these tips:

q Inspect troughs. If you’re not using some of them, consider turning the supply to the trough off.

q Know where your stop valves are located; NI Water can provide stop valve tags. You can request these by phoning Waterline 03457 44 00 88.

q Know where your meters are located (NI Water will help you to do this) and check them on a regular basis. A higher reading may indicate a leak which should be located and repaired as quickly as possible to reduce water bills, which are a major liability for a working farm.”

For more information contact NI Water on 03457 44 00 88 or email