Water UK: “I think they felt that the scheme was narrower than it actually was”

With a failure of communication being one of the main features of the Northern Ireland water crisis it’s worth highlighting this BBC report from last night.

[Water UK Chief Executive Pamela] Taylor said the idea behind the [mutual aid] scheme was that operators could call for assistance in the event of an emergency.

She said it was up to individual operators to identify the type of help needed such as tankers, bowsers or call centre staff.

She confirmed that NI Water contacted Water UK on Friday, a week after the crisis began for clarification on the assistance available.

“I think they felt that the scheme was narrower than it actually was,” she said.

So when I was contacted on Friday I was able to clarify with them the breadth of the scheme and recognise that NI Water did indeed want help regarding call centre staff. [added emphasis]

“Then within three hours of their needing that support though mutual aid they were able to get it.”

Interestingly, in the same report, NI Water spokesman Liam Mulholland denies that the mutual aid scheme covered call handling staff

Liam Mulholland from NI Water defended the company’s position and denied NI Water had not made the most of the help available from Water UK.

“As part of our major incident plan we reviewed that part of the document which said the mutual understanding is there,” he said.

“It clearly states that it is to do with engineering, plant and machinery and so on.

“The term resource is more around the machinery and plant situation, that was our view at that time.

“At that point the situation with Water UK was, there was no agreement there in terms of call handling staff. [added emphasis]

“Subsequently on 31 December when our chief executive spoke with Water UK they put out a call to their members to see if anyone could help us.”

So NI Water are arguing that the Chief Executive of Water UK doesn’t understand its own mutual aid scheme?  Really?!