NI WATER last week organised a site visit to brief local councillors on the progress being made on its £8m upgrade to Newcastle Wastewater Treatment Works (WwTW) which will deliver an improved standard of discharge to local bathing waters in line with future European Directives.
It was a timely visit for the local councillors who were able to get a bird’s eye view of the internal structures inside the new extension – including an additional UV treatment stream and an extensive storm storage facility – from the top of the existing WwTW before the roof of the extension goes on in about a month’s time.
Viewing progress, councillors were told by NI Water that the project is almost at the half-way stage and that the team was on programme to have the treatment works compliant with European Bathing Water Standards by May 2013 – ahead of the forthcoming bathing season.
During the visit, Kieran Grant, NI Water’s project manager for the multi-million pound scheme, outlined to councillors some of the challenges faced by the local construction team, Dawson-Wam/Ovivo JV, since work began at the beginning of the year, pointing out the huge steel piles which had to be erected right round the site to hold back the Irish Sea and create a safe, watertight area before work could even begin.
O’Boyle Says New WWTW Result of 10 Years Work
Newcastle Councillor Carmel O’Boyle said: “It is now ten years since Councillor Eamonn O’Neill persuaded Peter Robinson who was at that time the DRD Minister to come to Newcastle to see for himself the substandard pumping station that we had at the Harbour.
“At a meeting afterwards, Mr Robinson gave us an undertaking that he would allocate funding to the upgrade of our water and sewerage treatment plant in Newcastle that would make our bathing water cleaner and would free up planning restrictions.
“The treatment works we visited on Friday are a culmination of the £14 million that has been allocated to Newcastle. This is a most impressive piece of engineering work and we were so lucky to secure so much funding for the people of Newcastle in these austere times. Once the Newcastle plant opens early next year we can move forward with our plans to seek Blue Flag status for Newcastle and to build more houses for the many people who want to make Newcastle their home.”
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In addition to discussing the important environmental benefits that the project would ultimately deliver to the locality, Mr Grant highlighted the economic benefits that were currently being released locally as a result of the work, explaining that over 20 of the construction site staff were from the local area and that the services and supplies from a host of local building companies were also being employed on the scheme.
Following the site tour, councillors were shown plans of the ‘eco-friendly’ green roof that NI Water intends to create on the top of the new extension.
Speaking about the plans, Kieran said: “NI Water appreciates the high amenity value and scenic importance of the area surrounding the Newcastle WwTW and has worked closely with architects, engineers and local landscape experts to develop a visually-pleasing design for the roof of the new extension.
“These designs show the roof being planted out with low-maintenance, native vegetation that will not only provide a natural habitat for birds and insects, but will also present an attractive landscape for local residents to view from properties overlooking the site.”