The Water and Sewerage Services Act (Northern Ireland) 2016

Date published: 06 May 2016

The Water and Sewerage Services Act (Northern Ireland) 2016 received Royal Assent and came into operation on 23 March 2016. Sections 4, 5 and 6 of the Act relating to Sustainable Drainage Systems, Refusal of Surface Water Connections and Adoption Agreements will come into operation two months after the Act received Royal Assent, on 23 May 2016.  The purpose of the two month delay is to facilitate the issue of information and guidance to stakeholders, in particular, developers.

NI Water officials have been working closely with the Department regarding advice and guidance on the changes effected by the Act and will continue to work with stakeholders over the coming months.


Clause summary

A summary of the Clauses contained within the Act are as follows:

Clause 1 is the extension of the period for which the Department can pay subsidy to NI Water. The Bill also includes a power to make further extensions by subordinate legislation, should this be required.

Clause 2 introduces powers for NI Water to amalgamate its Water Resource Management Plans and Drought Plans into one Water Resource and Supply Resilience Plan which will reduce the administrative burden and costs and help to ensure that the actions in the combined plan are cohesive.

Clause 3 includes a power to make regulations to amend the existing legal requirement on NI Water to install water meters at new domestic properties.

Clause 4 introduces a definition of sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) which can be adopted by NI Water.  It will ensure that ‘hard’ SuDS, which are normally large pipes or tanks, usually with a flow control valve, will be constructed to appropriate standards and adopted and maintained by NI Water.

Clause 5 is about reducing surface water connections to the public sewer network and it encourages developers to consider other drainage solutions, such as SuDS, as NI Water will be able to refuse connections if there are suitable alternatives available.

Clause 6 will ensure that developers will only be assured of a connection to the public sewer network if they have entered into an Article 161 agreement with NI Water and the sewers have been constructed to the correct standard. It will also place a duty on NI Water that it must permit a connection if the conditions of the Article 161 Agreement are met and the sewers are built to standard. This will provide greater assurance to homeowners that they won’t be faced with footing the bill if unadopted sub-standard sewers fail, and greater assurance to developers that NI Water must permit a connection if the structures are built to standard.

Clauses 7 and 8 are technical dealing with Interpretation and Commencement.

A copy of the Act is attached below for your information.

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