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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 19 February, 2003, 09:11 GMT
Islanders' water in the pipeline
Rathlin Island remains unspoilt
Rathlin Island remains unspoilt

An island off the County Antrim coast is about to catch up with modern life, as mains water is set to finally make its way to its hardy residents.

Seventeen properties on Rathlin Island - or about a third of the total on the island - are set to get piped water of drinking quality for the first time.

This means islanders and tourists will no longer have to make a trip to a hole in the hedge to quench their thirsts.

With this water supply, I think I might even get a dishwasher, so that will be really exciting
Alison Hurst
Rathlin resident
A 400,000 project aims to draw the water from an 80 metre deep bore well. It will then flow through 4.5km of distribution main.

Until now, three freshwater lakes have provided water for only part of the island.

This water supply has not been in line with European Union health and safety standards.

Rathlin resident Alison Hurst welcomed the project.

"Over the last few years, we've had the electricity in and the ferry service so it's a very nice place to live now.

Rathlin's new well
The island's new well
"With this water supply, I think I might even get a dishwasher, so that will be really exciting."

Regional development minister Angela Smith said the existing arrangements must have been a real problem for people on the island.

"I've spoken to the local residents and it's clear they are absolutely delighted.

"I'm really pleased the water service have done this. It shows the commitment that wherever people live, they need a decent fresh water supply and that's what we are committed to," she said.

The boat to the island from Ballycastle on the north County Antrim coast takes under an hour, and Rathlin is only 14 miles from the Mull of Kintyre in Scotland.

Rathlin Island is less than seven miles long and just one mile across.



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