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Northern Ireland news

First hosepipe ban in over 20 years, as heatwave continues in Northern Ireland

Enjoying the weather in Belfast as temputures soar for another day Picture Mal McCann.
Áine Quinn

As the high temperatures continue over the weekend, the first hosepipe ban in over 20 years has been introduced across the north.

Northern Ireland Water put the ban in place at 6pm on Friday evening, to stop any interruptions to supplies.

The last time a hosepipe ban was put in place in Northern Ireland was in 1995, which saw similar high temperatures.

NI Water chief executive Sara Venning said: "We have maximised our water production and need customer's help to reduce demand.

"We are asking customers to take heed of the hose pipe ban and stop non-essential water use - using hoses and sprinklers is causing demand to exceed the capacity to supply.

"In recent days our treatment works have been operating at near maximum levels with over 700 million litres of water being put into the network which is some 25% more than normal for this time of the year."

Customers in some areas, including parts of Belfast and Armagh, as well as other rural high-lying areas have already experienced loss of pressure and supply failures.

Meanwhile, the demand for water remains "critically high" in the Republic as Irish Water threaten long term restrictions.

The public are being urged to conserve water, and stop all “non-essential use” as over a hundred water management schemes are now at risk.

The high temperatures are expected to continue through to early next week.

Met Office spokesman Grahame Madge said: "We are going to see a continuation of the current warm spell but the temperatures over the next few days are not likely to be the warmest of the year so far.

"We will begin to have a slightly fresher feel, bringing the temperatures down, not by much, by one or two degrees."

On Friday afternoon, firefighters extinguished the mile-long gorse fire at Glenshane Pass in Co Derry.

Four appliances and 25 Firefighters attended the scene and the blaze was extinguished after it had raged for over two days.

The Ulster Farmers Union (UFU) has appealed for the government to take appropriate measures to prevent wildfires happening in the future.

UFU Hill Farming chairman, John Kennedy said: "The recent wildfire in the Sperrins and in England demonstrate how quickly these fires can spread and how difficult it can be to tackle them. Being able to appropriately manage these areas will go a long way in helping to prevent fires.

"Going forward, government should be supporting farmers to carry out controlled burns at the right time of year within habitats that are at risk of wildfire. It is a practice that has been around for many generations and helps to keep vegetation under control."

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Foreign Affairs (DAERA) has advised farmers and landowners affected by gorse fires to apply to the department within 15 days to see if they are eligible for payment.

The heatwave has also impacted on Ireland's water-life as low water levels and high temperatures are causing fish to die.

Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) are appealing for anglers, and the wider public, to report any sightings of distressed fish in shallow water.

IFI is also reminding landowners and farmers that as the low water levels and warm water temperatures put increased pressure on Ireland's watercourses, there is a reduced amount of oxygen in water.

Meanwhile, as the heatwave continues, keepers at Belfast zoo have been taking extra measures to keep the animals cool in the soaring temperatures.

While some of the animals originate from warmer climates, some are not used to the current high temperatures.

Efforts to cool the animals down include providing mud baths, showers and ice-lollies filled with fruit.

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