Vandals were behind an incident in the Rathbeg area of Cookstown which interrupted water supplies to properties and caused external flooding, it has emerged.
At the time of the incident, NI Water crews had been undertaking work as part of a broader watermains investment package in the Cookstown area worth some £2.3 million, which will enhance the quality, reliability and security of the local water supply.
The site was fully secured at the conclusion of the working day, as per standard practice. However, individuals subsequently gained access and vandalised work equipment, in particular causing damage to a barrier device. Once this device was damaged, flooding occurred.
Sandbags arrived for residents and the Fire Brigade also attended. Householders were also ordered to fill pots and pans as the water supply was cut off.
A NI Water spokesperson said: “Subsequent to the damage being caused, NI Water crews arrived at the scene promptly to carry out work to rectify the situation, with the repair being completed and all customers restored to supply after a period of time. NI Water remains grateful to our customers in the area for their patience while this issue was resolved.
“Having concluded an investigation into the burst, NI Water can confirm that the burst and attendant damage is as a result of vandalism. It is understandable that NI Water’s sites can attract the attention and interest of people. However, these are not playgrounds and can be extremely dangerous for unauthorised personnel without the correct training or equipment.
“It is very important that people realise that activities of this nature are not ‘harmless fun’, but that they can lead to loss of water supply or low water pressure for homes and businesses.
“It is crucial that communities remain vigilant against vandalism, as this can cause major delays in work schedules which are aimed at providing local communities with a vital service, and valuable time is wasted repairing the damage. The public are often our eyes and ears, and we are grateful for any support given to us to combat vandalism at our sites.
“We would ask local community leaders and representatives to extend support to us in helping to bring such disruptive activity to an end; this isn’t just a bit of fun. Having no water is a significant inconvenience for our customers and the unthinkable – no water being available for the emergency services in the event of a fire – is a possibility in such circumstances.”