how to save water

About us


Super Sewer! Major Tunnelling Machine Arrives at £8 Million Flood Alleviation Project

20 May 2021 13:06

 | NI Water News

A “friendly giant” Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) over 10 feet in length has arrived in Belfast, for use on a major £8million Flood Alleviation Project.  The work is to upgrade the sewerage infrastructure and substantially reduce the risk of out-of-sewer flooding in the Marguerite Park area of South Belfast, and pave the way for future works in the Sicily Park area.

Work on Phase one of this major infrastructure project is underway within the grounds of Musgrave Park & Musgrave Park Hospital, and the overall project will take up to 2 years to complete.

The machine will help reduce disruption within Musgrave Park/ Musgrave Park Hospital and Malone College by tunnelling around 800m of the new sewer underground – right below our feet! We will also tunnel under the main Belfast to Dublin Railway line, avoiding the need for any closures. The tunnelled sections of sewer will be up to 8m below ground level, the equivalent height of 2 double decker buses!

Mark Sefton, NI Water Project Manager, said:

“NI Water is delighted to welcome the arrival of the TBM on this major Flood Alleviation Project and look forward to putting the machine into operation!

“The machine will remove approximately 4000 tonnes of soil, equivalent to 250 full lorry loads of earth from below the ground, while users of the park and hospital will be unaware of what is happening below their feet! Tunnelling will also significantly reduce excavation works, and avoid the use of 21,000 tonnes of new stone fill, saving around 24,000 litres of fuel in transportation.

“NI Water would like to thank the public for their ongoing patience as construction progresses on this major project. Once complete, the local community will benefit from reduced risk of out-of-sewer flooding in the Marguerite Park area for many years to come.”

Hear below from Mark Sefton our Senior Project Manager on site for the arrival of the Tunnel Boring Machine on our £8m Flood Alleviation Project.

Welcoming the scheme, Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon added: “I was pleased to be on site for the arrival of this major piece of machinery to really appreciate the scale of this £8 million project.  This represents a huge step forward in a project where the benefits to people are as large in scale as the machinery used to make it happen. Once complete it will help to reduce out-of-sewer flood risk whilst minimising disruption during construction.

“This major flood alleviation scheme is part of the Living with Water Programme (LWWP) for Greater Belfast which I recently consulted on. The LWWP is an excellent example of how we can work together to deliver integrated sustainable drainage solutions to manage flood risk, enhance our environment, and allow our local economy to grow.”

The overall project involves constructing over 1.3km of new large diameter sewer from the ‘Grovelands’ area of Musgrave Park, through the park grounds, Musgrave Park Hospital and Malone College, crossing under the railway line and through an area of private land into Diamond Gardens/Marguerite Park and Donegal Park.

BSG Civil Engineering are the main contractor for this project, with Atkins providing design and Project Management Support.

The investment in Sicily/Marguerite Park Flood Alleviation Project - Phase 1 is an excellent example of what can be done when the necessary funding is in place.

See our Tunnel Boring Machine get to work on phase one of the Sicily/Marguerite Flood Alleviation Project below:

NI Water’s goal is to ensure we have a modern, efficient service today and in the future. While chronic underfunding of NI Water is an urgent issue, we are working hard at a local level to find solutions to enable Councils and developers to progress their vision and facilitate future economic development.

The message is clear, NI Water is ready to provide engineering solutions to short-term constraints where possible, however we must face the inescapable reality that the full funding identified by the Utility Regulator in its Draft Determination (PC21 business plan) is required to fulfil the vision of economic expansion for our towns and cities. 

This is not a ‘wish list’ or a ‘nice to have’; this is the plan that will help us ensure NI Water can deliver in a strong, modern regional economy.


Notes to editors

  • Phase 1 of this major project will increase the capacity of the existing network substantially reducing the risk of out-of-sewer flooding in the Marguerite area in the future. Phase 2 will address out-of-sewer flooding in the Sicily Park area. Commencement of Phase 2 is dependent on the completion of a separate, long-term project to extend the “Belfast Storm Water Tunnel.

Can't find what you're looking for? Visit the Need our Help or FAQ section