No-deal Brexit: Stockpiling of chemicals for clean drinking water

NI Water said "arrangements are in place for minimising risk"
Brendan Hughes

CHEMICALS to ensure clean drinking water are being stockpiled for Northern Ireland in case of a no deal Brexit.

NI Water has been involved in storing chemicals in case supplies are impacted for its processing plants and to treat drinking water, The Irish News understands.

The stockpiling has been carried out in combination with efforts to manage the supply chain in the event of the UK crashing out of the European Union without a deal.

NI Water said that "arrangements are in place for minimising risk".

The public water company, which provides the north's water and sewerage services, supplies 560 million litres of clean water and treats 320 million litres of wastewater a day.

It is understood NI Water has been involved in stockpiling chemicals to prepare for a possible no deal or hard Brexit. These chemicals would be needed to treat drinking water and for use in processing plants.

Asked about this, NI Water's director of customer service delivery Des Nevin said it has a contingency plan to address the "specific risks for Northern Ireland associated with Brexit".

"NI Water, like all other utilities across the UK, is currently working with government and its supply chain to scenario plan for any potential risks associated with Brexit," he said.

"The water industry as a whole, led by Water UK, has put in place a cross-sector programme to prepare for and manage any issues that do occur. The programme has built a highly-detailed understanding of chemicals transport routes and storage arrangements throughout the UK.

"This has allowed us to enhance our contingency plan to address the specific risks for Northern Ireland associated with Brexit."

In his statement, he added: "NI Water requires a variety of chemicals to maintain its water, wastewater and scientific lab services.

"In terms of stock levels, there are limits to the levels of chemical stocks that any one water company can hold, as some are volatile and dangerous to hold in large quantities, whilst others have a short shelf-life.

"NI Water has made arrangements with suppliers to mitigate supply chain risks where possible, to ensure there is stock available to NI Water as and when it is required by the company.

"We are confident the actions we have taken to date will allow us to identify any problems well in advance of any effects being felt. Our customers should feel reassured that we are prepared and arrangements are in place for minimising risk."

Concerns have previously been raised about the impact of a no deal Brexit on the supply of drinking water.

Last month details were leaked of Operation Yellowhammer, the British government's no-deal Brexit contingency planning, which discussed a risk of a failure in the chemicals supply chain.

However, the likelihood was considered low and public water services were considered likely to remain largely unaffected due to actions taken by water companies.

British prime minister Boris Johnson has previously pledged "there will be clean drinking water" regardless of the kind of Brexit deal negotiated.

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