“Temperatures are starting to drop and long range forecasters are predicting that we are in for a very cold winter this year. Farmers are encouraged to protect their farms by protecting their pipes,” said Mr Ferguson.
There are a number of ways farmers can prevent problems from occurring or minimising their impact if they happen including:
- Ensure that you have good understanding of the layout of pipework within your land and keep a map of the line of this pipework;
- Know where your stop valves are located; use the brightly coloured tags to mark stop valves in the fields or in sheds.
- Ideally, install a number of stop valves to isolate water supply to disused areas of the farm during the winter months;
- Ensure that you have a supply of the relevant fittings to repair any leakages;
- Know where your meters are located (NI Water will help you to do this if asked) and check them on a regular basis. A higher reading may indicate a leak which should be located and repaired as quickly as possible to reduce water bills, which are a major liability for a working farm;
- 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 at the meter or installing a stop valve for the trough (or field) so you turn off the supply without having to do so at the meter. Consider draining troughs;
- Where practical ensure all underground pipes are buried 750 millimetres (2½ feet) below ground level.
- Ensure any pipes within buildings are insulated, where appropriate, taking account of the presence of any livestock;
- Fix dripping taps – a gentle trickle of water can freeze and completely block the pipe;
- Examine the adequacy of storage in the event of a supply problem. NI Water recommends at least 24 hours storage;
- Write down the name and contact details of a SNIPEF (Scotland & Northern Ireland Plumbing Employers Federation) registered plumber in case a pipe does burst.