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Minister Views Innovative New Wastewater Treatment Process at Drumkee

07 August 2013 15:23

Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy with Sean Hogan, Chairman of NI Water
Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy today (Wednesday 7th August) visited Drumkee Wastewater Treatment Works in Dungannon, to see first hand Northern Ireland Water’s (NI Water) new natural Willows Wastewater Treatment System, which has been used in Northern Ireland for the first time. Northern Ireland is a leading region within the British Isles in terms of researching, trialling and proving the concept of this environmentally sustainable technology.

The Minister met with representatives from NI Water, including NI Water Chairman Sean Hogan and representatives from Resourceful Organics Ltd. who will implement this new technology on behalf of NI Water. Representatives were also in attendance from the Agri- Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA), who were both involved in the development of this new Willows Technology.

As the first of its kind in Northern Ireland, the project uses willows as a natural filter system (biofiltration) to clean wastewater. It is hoped this natural technology will provide NI Water with a robust reliable solution for the cleaning and treatment of wastewater in other rural areas, and provide significant benefits in terms of reducing capital expenditure, carbon footprint and environmental sustainability.

The new Willows Technology involves the recycling of effluent or wastewater produced from the existing Wastewater Treatment Works at Drumkee, County Tyrone, which will then be used to irrigate willow growing on neighbouring land.
Providing a natural filter system, the wastewater passes through the willows and is cleansed of impurities. The willows also provide important, diverse habitats for a wide range of wildlife.
Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy said: “This is an extremely exciting and innovative pilot project for Northern Ireland, which will improve wastewater treatment in the Dungannon area through the use of willows technology.
“There are many environmental benefits for Northern Ireland through this natural technology as Willows can absorb a considerable amount of nutrient and can easily grow in our climate.

“I welcome this forward-thinking approach in not only the cleaning and treatment of wastewater, but also in helping to reduce NI Water’s carbon footprint”

Sean Hogan, Chairman of NI Water & AFBI added: “This project at Drumkee Wastewater Treatment Works is a pilot project for NI Water and may become a benchmark for other wastewater treatment plants across Northern Ireland, particularly in rural areas.

“NI Water staff have been working closely with our partners - Resourceful Organics Ltd, AFBI and NIEA to develop this natural wastewater treatment technology.

“The long term benefits for Northern Ireland through this sustainable Willows Technology will be hugely significant in terms of the reduction in carbon emissions. NI Water looks forward to monitoring the progress of this new natural form of wastewater treatment.”

John Gilliland, representing Resourceful Organics Ltd said:
“As regulations for the disposal of wastewater and sludge become stricter, environmentally acceptable options must continue to be found to dealing with these wastes. Sustainable solutions must be developed in order to protect our environment. I look forward to developing this partnership with NI Water and progressing with this innovative pilot project at Drumkee.”

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