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Ground surveys to determine viability of expanding NI Water’s treatment works in Downpatrick

19 May 2023 10:57

Contractors working for NI Water are due to begin ground investigation works at the end of May in the area surrounding Downpatrick Wastewater Treatment Works (WwTW), ahead of plans being submitted for an extension to the facility later this year.

The investigation work at the NI Water-owned site located off the Belfast Road, will be undertaken in close liaison with Department for Communities Historic Environment Division and will be overseen by a qualified archaeologist.

Speaking about the site investigation work, NI Water Project Manager, Martin Armstrong said:

“This important survey work will help finalise the design of an extension to the existing Downpatrick WwTW which is required to meet future trade and domestic growth in the town.

“The site investigations, which will be restricted to areas on the site where new tanks are planned, will be undertaken in accordance with an agreed programme of archaeological works, under licence from Department for Communities and will involve the careful removal of topsoil by hand, followed by borehole surveys if no archaeological remains are found.

“An archaeological watching brief will be maintained throughout all the site investigation works and any findings will be recorded, preserved or removed and stored in line with the appropriate protocols.”

The existing Downpatrick WwTW was constructed in 1995 and expanded in 2010 to support a growing population and continue to meet environmental discharge standards. A further extension to the treatment works is required to support projected economic development in the town and cater for future growth within the catchment, while protecting the local environment.

The design for a more efficient, larger treatment facility within NI Water’s current land ownership, can only be finalised once the site investigation work has been completed and funding has been approved.

NI Water will liaise with the relevant stakeholders throughout the planning process and will ensure that any plans for the site are communicated well in advance of potential construction works getting underway in 2024.

Over the past fifteen years, we have steadily improved the efficiency with which we operate while at the same time improving the quality of drinking water, levels of environmental compliance and the services we provide to our customers.


For further information, please email

  • In 2007, NI Water’s operating costs were 49% less efficient than the leading UK utility comparator. A benchmarking analysis carried out by the Utility Regulator and reported in the PC21 Final Determination, confirms that NI Water has closed the operating cost efficiency gap with leading water sector companies in England and Wales to just 5.7%.

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