Questions and answers in relation to drinking water - 18/05/2020
Will COVID-19 affect my drinking water?
In Northern Ireland, all public drinking water supplies are routinely disinfected as part of the treatment process, and this process removes all harmful pathogens including viruses. People should continue to use tap water as normal, including for drinking, hand washing, bathing, cooking, and brushing teeth unless advised otherwise by NI Water.
What is being done to protect the public drinking water supply?
The Drinking Water Inspectorate is continuing to regulate NI Water to ensure that it produces a wholesome mains water supply. Whilst some monitoring requirements have been relaxed to protect NI Water staff and ensure social distancing, the regulatory standards have not changed.
How do I know if my private well supply is safe?
Whilst the risk to drinking water from COVID-19 is low, it is important to protect private water supplies from contamination as they often have no form of disinfection treatment. A number of measures can be taken to improve your water safety, including protecting the source water and installing disinfection treatment (chlorination or ultra-violet irradiation) for the supply prior to use. If you are concerned about the safety of your private supply, you should use an alternative supply of water such as mains water from NI Water, bottled water, or boil and cool your water before use. Further information and advice is available from the Drinking Water Inspectorate on 028 90569282 or by e-mail to email@example.com
What can I do to manage the private water supply used in my business at this time?
As part of your contingency planning, you should consider your ability to continue to supply wholesome water during this COVID-19 period. This may include checking the accessibility of replacement chemicals and parts to maintain your private water supply and your ability to switch to the mains water supply from NI Water if necessary.
Can I get the private water supply used in my business tested?
Due to the increased risk to sampling staff and staff or individuals within your premises, and in line with current government guidance issued for the protection of public health during the COVID-19 pandemic, the routine monitoring of private water supplies by the Drinking Water Inspectorate has been temporarily suspended. The monitoring of private water supplies will be re-instated when circumstances permit, however, in the interim, it remains the responsibility of the site operator to manage any risks associated with providing or using a private water supply. You should notify the Drinking Water Inspectorate on 028 90569282 or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org if you require advice or if there is any change in use or operation of the private water supply at your premises.
What should I do if my business premises are closed and the private water supply is not being used?
You should notify the Drinking Water Inspectorate on 028 90569282 or by email to email@example.com if your private water supply is taken out of service and similarly of your intention to bring it back into service. It is important that the private water supply system is flushed, the operation of the treatment checked and the private water supply tested before bringing it back into service.
What do I do if I cannot get replacement chemicals or parts for my water treatment?
As part of your contingency planning, you should check with your supplier if there is a ready supply of the chemicals or parts that you need for managing the treatment of your private water supply. If there is difficulty in sourcing chemicals or replacement parts you should consider moving to the public mains supply, if available, or contact NI Water for a mains connection. Alternatively you may be required to use an alternative supply of water such as bottled water. You should also notify the Drinking Water Inspectorate on 028 90569282 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org if there are change in use or operation of the private water supply at your premises.
What do I do if I want to connect or switch to the mains water supply from NI Water?
You should contact NI Water if you wish to connect or switch to the mains water supply from NI Water. Further information is available on the NI Water website
What do I do if my private water supply runs dry?
If your domestic private water supply runs dry, particularly if you are in a vulnerable or shielded group you are advised to contact the Drinking Water Inspectorate on 028 90569282 or by email to email@example.com
Advice and further guidance on how to source an alternative water supply such as bottled water will be provided.
If my premises has been closed and the water not used for a period of time, what do I need to do before I re-open?
DWI has published a guidance leaflet on the steps to take on re-opening to ensure your water supply is safe. This guidance applies to all water supply systems regardless if the water is supplied by NI Water or by a private well, borehole or spring. NI Water has also issued guidance on restarting after lockdown, available on their website at https://www.niwater.com/vacant-property-advice/ . If you require additional guidance on your private water supply, please contact the Drinking Water Inspectorate’s private water supplies team by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 02890 569282.
If my premises are closed how do I keep the water supply safe?
Where a building or part of a building is out of use for an extended period of time, the water supply system should be flushed regularly to reduce the risk of bacterial contamination building up in the system. Where necessary disinfectant can be used, at appropriate levels, to control the risk of bacterial contamination. Further information is available by contacting the Drinking Water Inspectorate by email to email@example.com or telephone 02890 569282.