NI Wa­ter Chief ex­ec­u­tive: Sara Ven­ning

Belfast Telegraph - Top 100 Northern Ireland Companies - - ENTRIES 1-20 PROFILED -

NI Wa­ter says that it de­liv­ers what mat­ters and ex­ists to pro­vide the wa­ter for life which is re­lied upon to thrive. The com­pany ob­serves that every as­pect of life in North­ern Ire­land de­pends on its vi­tal in­fras­truc­ture. The busi­ness is es­sen­tial to sup­port a healthy and thriv­ing pop­u­la­tion, a grow­ing econ­omy and a flour­ish­ing nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment. The com­pany says that its fo­cus is “to con­sis­tently de­liver high qual­ity drink­ing wa­ter and re­cy­cle used wa­ter safely to the en­vi­ron­ment”.

To pro­vide a sense of scale, NI Wa­ter de­liv­ers 570 mil­lion litres of clean, safe drink­ing wa­ter to 860,000 house­holds and busi­nesses and re­cy­cles 340 mil­lion litres of used wa­ter from 700,000 house­holds and busi­nesses.

It costs around £460m each year to de­liver wa­ter ser­vices in North­ern Ire­land. Thou­sands of as­sets at a value of around £3bn, are op­er­ated and main­tained to pro­vide NI Wa­ter’s ser­vices.

It as­sets in­clude over 40,000km of wa­ter mains and sew­ers — one and a half times longer than North­ern Ire­land’s en­tire road net­work and long enough to circle planet earth.

The com­pany, which is a govern­ment-owned com­pany or Goco, says that since its for­ma­tion in 2007, “we have been lead­ing the chal­lenge on do­ing more for customers, with fewer re­sources”.

“We have trans­formed the de­liv­ery of wa­ter ser­vices, de­liv­er­ing record lev­els of ser­vice for our customers while re­duc­ing our cost base through sus­tain­able ef­fi­cien­cies.

“NI Wa­ter is one of the most suc­cess­ful ex­am­ples of a pub­lic sec­tor or­gan­i­sa­tion achiev­ing pri­vate sec­tor lev­els of per­for­mance and ef­fi­ciency.”

But the com­pany also calls for changes to its gov­er­nance and fund­ing if it’s to con­tinue its per­for­mance.

“The Depart­ment for In­fras­truc­ture, the in­de­pen­dent Util­ity Reg­u­la­tor and many in­formed com­men­ta­tors agree that the cur­rent gov­er­nance and fund­ing of wa­ter and sew­er­age ser­vices re­quires re­vi­sion.

“The pub­lic pol­icy ob­jec­tives for wa­ter and sew­er­age ser­vices re­main un­der-funded.”

The com­pany is now de­vel­op­ing its in­vest­ment plan for the next Price Con­trol pe­riod, 2021-2027 (PC21).

It says that around £2.5bn will be needed to ad­dress ca­pac­ity is­sues and con­tinue pro­vid­ing es­sen­tial ser­vices. This in­cludes an in­vest­ment of around £1bn in the Liv­ing with Wa­ter Pro­gramme, which will pro­vide sew­er­age treat­ment and drainage in­fras­truc­ture in greater Belfast dur­ing the 2020s to sup­port the ex­ist­ing pop­u­la­tion and al­low it to grow.

The com­pany adds: “The ser­vices pro­vided by the com­pany are es­sen­tial for a mod­ern re­gional econ­omy.

“NI Wa­ter is com­mit­ted to work­ing with all its strate­gic part­ners in both the pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tors to se­cure the nec­es­sary in­vest­ment to de­liver re­silient and sus­tain­able ser­vices for customers.”

Dur­ing the year the com­pany spoke out over the bur­dens be­ing placed on its in­fras­truc­ture from the in­creased rate of house­build­ing in the prov­ince.

The com­pany said ex­tra fund­ing was needed to bring waste wa­ter in­fras­truc­ture up to date, or the rate of new house­build­ing would be ham­pered. It high­lighted a lack of ca­pac­ity at 70 sewage treat­ment works across the prov­ince, in­clud­ing Li­mavady, Lur­gan and Larne.

Ear­lier this year the com­pany also in­creased its charges to busi­ness customers by 2.7%, a level de­ter­mined by the Util­ity Reg­u­la­tor. How­ever, do­mes­tic customers are still not charged for wa­ter.

Pre-tax profit: £94.5m

Em­ploy­ment: 1,302

Pay bill: £63.9m

40 Old West­land Road Belfast BT14 6TE Tel: 08457 440088 www.ni­wa­ter.com

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