NI Water use willow trees for 'environmentally acceptable' filtration
NI Water is to trial the use of willows as a natural vegetative filter to clean wastewater from its site in Dungannon.
The company hopes this technology will provide it with a solution for the cleaning and treatment of wastewater in other rural areas, while reducing its carbon footprint and capital expenditure.
NI Water will partner with Resourceful Organics, in a commercial project, which is the first of its kind in Northern Ireland.
Using willows as a natural filter, the scheme will test the biofiltration system to clean wastewater from Drumkee Wastewater Treatment Works.
The proposal involves recycling the effluent or wastewater produced from the works, which will then be used to irrigate willow growing on neighbouring land.
The willows provide a natural filter system, and will be used to clean wastewater, which will then be filtered through the willows and cleansed of impurities. According to NI Water the willows also provide diverse habitats for a wide range of wildlife.
NI Water director of engineering procurement Bill Gowdy said: "This is a great first step in trialling an innovative environmental wastewater solution for Northern Ireland and we look forward to monitoring the progress of this new natural form of wastewater treatment."
According to John Gilliland, of Resourceful Organics, willows are one of the easiest plants to grow in the UK's climate and have the ability to absorb a substantial amount of nutrient, either as a liquid or sludge.
"As regulations for the disposal of wastewater and sludge become stricter, environmentally acceptable options must continue to be found for dealing with these wastes." he explained.