Northern Ireland’s water works set for major overhaul

Water works in Northern Ireland are set to undergo a major overhaul, pulling drinking water quality up to EU standards by 2008 and increasing capacity, under the region's first public-private drinking water project.

The next two years will see £110m invested in upgrading five water treatment facilities that provide almost half of Northern Ireland’s drinking water, minister for the regions David Cairns said on Wednesday.

Drinking water from four of the five works does not currently meet European standards, with concentrations of aluminium and trihalomethanes exceeding limits set by the EU Drinking Water Directive, a spokesperson for Northern Ireland’s Water Service told edie.

Dalriada Water, an international consortium of water and engineering companies, signed a contract to carry out the work with the Water Service on Wednesday. Over the next two years it plans to merge two of the five water plants into one, transform two others from filtration into chemical treatment facilities, and extend the remaining one.

The upgrades should bring drinking water quality across half of Northern Ireland into compliance with EU regulations by the end of 2008, as well as increasing capacity by 150m litres per day and ensuring supply for a 2030 horizon.

David Cairns said: “This contract will improve drinking water quality for customers across Northern Ireland. It will also help to provide the necessary infrastructure improvements to support new housing, commercial and industrial development in Northern Ireland.

“We need to continue investment to protect public health, safeguard the environment and respond to increasing demand,” he said.

The Dalriada consortium, comprising Kelda Water Services, Earth Tech Engineering and Northstone (NI) Ltd, said it will start work immediately and expects to complete the project by October 2008. Dalriada will then take over the running and maintenance of the upgraded facilities from Northern Ireland’s Water Service for 23 years.

Katharine Bryan, Chief Executive of Water Service said: “The partnership with Dalriada Water is an important part of the Water Service’s capital investment programme which will ensure compliance with standards, protect the environment and provide value for money for our customers.”

Tony White, Earth Tech managing director for the UK and Ireland, said: “Our approach provides a very efficient, cost-effective solution to meeting present and future water needs for these communities while providing the best value for the money.”

The Water Treatment works to be upgraded are located at Ballinrees, Castor Bay, Forked Bridge, Dunore Point and Moyola.

Goska Romanowicz

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