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Sowing the seeds for better water quality in Carlingford Lough

30 September 2020 16:36

 | NI Water News
NI Water is delighted to have taken a major step forward in the £6m upgrade of Warrenpoint Wastewater Treatment Works (WwTW) with the ‘seeding’ of the new Activated Sludge Plant (ASP).

The extensive programme of improvements at the Mound Road site forms part of the EU-funded Shared Waters Enhancement & Loughs Legacy (SWELL) project, which aims to improve water quality in Carlingford Lough and Lough Foyle through the upgrade of wastewater assets on both sides of the border.

The seeding of the new Warrenpoint plant - the process whereby flows are introduced to the new infrastructure to initiate the biological treatment process – took place over a number of days and involved pumping more than five million litres of wastewater into the new tanks. 

Explaining how the process works, Tomasz Piadlo, NI Water SWELL Project Manager said: “The new Activated Sludge Plant at Warrenpoint is a substantial structure built to replace the smaller 40-year-old tanks on the site. With twice the volume of an Olympic-size swimming pool, the new ASP is equipped with three aeration lanes, each with over 300 diffusers, which distribute oxygen into the tanks to break down the bacteria in the wastewater.

“This process forms part of the secondary treatment stage at the new WwTW. Before the wastewater arrives at the ASP it goes through a preliminary treatment phase, where a new balance tank helps control the flow and a new inlet works ensures the wastewater is screened before it passes to the new ASP.”

Building work at Warrenpoint WwTW was undertaken by Dungannon-based GEDA Construction, while Newry-based Water Solutions Ireland (WSI) were responsible for the extensive mechanical, electrical and process-related work at the site. Project management was carried out by Belfast consultancy firm McAdam Design.

The seeding of the ASP marks the first step in the commissioning of the upgraded Warrenpoint WwTW, which WSI are due to complete by the end of October. Early indications show that the final effluent – the treated wastewater being discharged to Carlingford Lough – is of a much higher quality as a result of the significant investment being made under EU’s INTERREG VA Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body.

Overall the €35m SWELL project involves a total of eight wastewater infrastructure upgrades, as well as catchment studies and ecosystem modelling, within the Carlingford Lough drainage basin (within Newry, Mourne & Down and Louth council areas) and the Lough Foyle drainage basin (comprising Derry City & Strabane and Donegal council areas). The improvements to the wastewater assets will help contribute to raising the current EU Water Framework Directive status of ‘moderate’ to ‘good’.

The four-year project – which is being led by NI Water working in partnership with Irish Water, the Agri-Food & Biosciences Institute (AFBI), Loughs Agency and East Border Region - will culminate in the development of a unique environmental legacy model that can be used to achieve further improvements in water quality in the shared waters of Carlingford Lough and Lough Foyle in the future.

Match-funding for the SWELL project has been provided by the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government in Ireland and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs in Northern Ireland.

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