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Funding restraints curb development

23 October 2018 16:24

WwTW Capacity Issues

NI Water has released details of the sites across Northern Ireland where Wastewater Treatment Works are at or near capacity. 

In areas where the existing public sewerage system is currently operating above design capacity, NI Water are not currently approving new connections to the existing public sewerage network. This is because further connections will cause out of sewer flooding impacts upon existing customers. 

NI Water CEO Sara Venning said:

Every aspect of life in Northern Ireland relies on the water and wastewater services we provide.   NI Water has been warning for some time that the funding deficit we are operating with would eventually start impacting on investment and delivery.  In preparing its PC15 Business Case, NI Water  identified over 70 works where capacity issues existed. Funding (£60million) was provided to upgrade 19 Wastewater Treatment Works (WwTW) between 2015 and 2021, such as the recently opened £7million works at Ballycastle.


“We started 2015 from a constrained capital expenditure position with £990million against a requirement of £1.7billion.  Further public expenditure cuts mean that around £55million of projects will not be delivered. These are projects such as new water mains or upgraded wastewater treatment plants needed to connect new houses and underpin wider economic growth. Although we are a regulated utility we have not been immune from public expenditure cuts and uncertainty over funding."


“ As NI Water develops its investment plan for the next price control period (2021 - 2027) we expect the investment needed to address wastewater capacity issues to exceed £0.5bn, as part of an overall expenditure profile which is likely to approach £2bn.


“Without adequate investment, there will be further impacts on service delivery, the local economy and the environment.”



Details of geographic breakdown of areas of capacity or near capacity are contained in the accompanying Capacity Table.

For further information, please contact




  • Northern Ireland is unique within the UK as being the only part where the regulated water utility is unable to fully implement the economic regulator’s final determination due to public expenditure constraints.
  • The final determination sets out the required levels of funding and service. As a government owned company (GoCo) and a non-departmental public body (NDPB), NI Water is not immune from public expenditure cuts and uncertainty over funding.
  • Investment in upgrading the sewerage system is subject to available funding and prioritisation with NI Water’s regulators. NI Water will continue to work with elected representatives and developers to find solutions to the difficulties being experienced.
  • The current capacity of Belfast (Duncrue) WwTW is under review and is becoming a growing priority requiring major investment. The Belfast sewer system is also being reviewed and this has highlighted capacity problems within the network. As a result development constraints are now in place within parts of the Belfast network .
  • NI Water will be seeking confirmation of the significant investment needed to ensure Belfast’s wastewater systems support the growth of Belfast. 
  • There is an initiative for Belfast, the ‘Living With Water Programme’ (LWWP), which is currently being developed, and if funded, (ca £750M), would result in a significant sewerage treatment and drainage infrastructure investment in Belfast during the mid to late 2020s. 
  • This investment requirement is in addition to the investment needed elsewhere across NI.





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