Protect your farm as winter looms

Protect your farm as winter looms
FROZEN: UFU deputy president Victor Chestnutt and Fionnuala O’Connell, NI Water Public Affairs and Media Officer, discussing the effects of frozen water pipes.

THIS winter, NI Water and the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) are urging farmers to protect their property and follow a ‘two step pipe check’ – check if pipes are insulated and if they are, ensure the insulation is adequate and still provides protection.

Sean McAleese, NI Water Director Customer Service, explains: “Over 60 per cent of NI Water’s non domestic customers are classified as farms, so it is an important consumer group for us. Farms can also be among our most vulnerable group if they lose their water supply.

“The effects of dealing with the aftermath of a burst pipe on a farm cannot be underestimated. Water is the single most important requirement for livestock. On a dairy farm, livestock drinking water accounts for between 50 per cent and 75 per cent of the farm’s water usage. It is therefore vital farmers have a clean constant supply of water.

“There are a number of ways farmers can protect their property including:

n Check meters on a regular basis. A higher reading may indicate a leak which should be located and repaired as quickly as possible;

n Ensure that you have good understanding of the layout of pipework within your land;

n Consider mapping the line of the pipework, which can extend over several acres of land;

n Know where your stop valves are located;

n Ideally, install a number of stop valves to isolate water supply to disused areas of the farm during the winter months;

n Check for and repair any leakage promptly to reduce water bills, which are a major liability for a working farm;

n Inspect remote troughs which may not be used at this time of year, particularly the exposed pipe leading into the trough; if cattle are inside consider turning the supply to the trough off;

n Ensure all underground pipes are buried 750 millimetres below ground level.

n Ensure any pipes within buildings are insulated.

n Examine the adequacy of storage in the event of a supply problem. NI Water recommends at least 24 hours storage.

UFU Deputy President Victor Chestnutt said: “The Ulster Farmers’ Union welcomes the opportunity to work with NI Water to help farmers prepare for the winter ahead. By taking a few minutes to complete simple steps such as checking pipes and water fittings around farms and outhouses, ensuring that they are protected and well insulated can potentially save money, time and the inconvenience of dealing with the damage caused by a burst pipe.”

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