Posted on Monday 27 August 2018 by Ulster Business

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Sara Venning’s job involves looking after one of Northern Ireland’s largest and most crucial pieces of infrastructure.

With a turnover of £422m a year and the responsibility of delivering 570 million litres of water to 850,000 homes and businesses across the region, NI Water is one of our largest operations.

It also has assets worth close to £3bn, including more than 40,000 kilometres of water mains and sewers, which is one and half times longer than Northern Ireland’s entire road network.

How has it changed and evolved over the last few years, in terms of being run?

“Much of what NI Water delivers takes place underground or out of sight,” NI Water chief executive Sara Venning said.

“It is often the case that the unseen water and wastewater infrastructure only becomes seen when it fails.

“It then becomes apparent how much every aspect of life relies on what the company delivers.  

“NI Water has been focusing on how to make its infrastructure more visible and valued.

“There are a number of exciting initiatives happening to help achieve customer
promises and the company’s vision of becoming a ‘world-class’ water utility, capable of meeting future customer expectations at a sustainably lower cost.”

One of its latest projects is trying cut down the size of its own carbon footprint, as Northern Ireland’s largest consumer of electricity.

“Flagship projects for energy include a new £7m solar farm, where 24,000 solar panels produce enough electricity to supply the power needs of one of Northern Ireland’s largest treatment plants - Dunore Water Treatment Works in south Antrim.

“The Dunore solar farm is a major step toward reaching the company’s goal of increasing electricity consumption from renewable sources from the current 13% to 40% by 2021.”

As far as some of the major ongoing work required to maintain the network, it’s currently investing £5m in a Belfast city scheme (pictured) which has its base on the Dublin Road. The project involves upgrading a pumping station on Hardcastle Street and pipe laying on Adelaide Street and Linenhall Street.

NI Water has entered the fourth year of a six year business plan, which sets out how the company will grow value and trust.

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