Northern Ireland Water has unveiled plans for an “extensive” £8m programme of improvements planned for the Benone/Magilligan sewerage network.
Speaking in Magilligan Community Centre last Thursday, Dermott McCurdy, NI Water’s Head of Wastewater Capital Procurement, explained the 18-month scheme is due to get underway at the end of March. It involves the construction of a new state-of-the-art treatment plant - Magilligan Wastewater Treatment Works (WwTW).
“This new works is to be constructed on a Greenfield site, previously owned by the Ministry of Defence off the Point Road in Magilligan,” he said.
“With built-in flexibility to cope with winter and summer population fluctuations, this modern new facility will adopt a robust two-stage treatment process, additional filtration and UV disinfection to ensure that the treated effluent meets current and projected future EU directives thereby helping to protect the ‘Blue Flag’ status of Benone Strand.”
Explaining how the new system will operate, Mr McCurdy continued: “In an overhaul of the existing arrangements, all current wastewater treatment works at Aughil, Drumavalley and those privately owned by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and HM Prison Magilligan, will be converted to modern new pumping stations, these will transfer all wastewater and stormwater to the new Magilligan WwTW for effective treatment before being discharged to sea through a new outfall pipe at Magilligan Point. This will mean that once the scheme is in full operation there will be no further continuous discharges of treated effluent to local watercourses or Lough Foyle.”
Highlighting the advantages of the project, Mr McCurdy added: “An additional benefit of the scheme is the decommissioning and removal of the existing Benone WwTW (which lies adjacent to one of the local caravan parks) and the irrigation field (soakaway) to which it discharges. The old MoD and HMP wastewater treatment facilities will also be demolished and removed. Taking into consideration the ‘Special Area of Conservation’ in which these facilities lie, in close liaison with the NI Environment Agency, these sites will be carefully restored to their natural habitat to ensure the status of the area is protected.”
He said a full Environmental Impact Assessment had been carried out for the scheme and the local contractor appointed to the project - Maghera-based BSG Civil Engineering – would employ sensitive construction practices to minimise disruption to the community. Such measures he explained would include: only carrying out pipelaying work during off-peak tourist periods using trenchless techniques; programming construction work at Aughil WwTW during school holiday times and recycling materials to reduce construction vehicle movements on roads. A qualified archaeologist will also be employed to keep a watching brief during all topsoil stripping and the contractor will seek to use local suppliers and labour where possible.
Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy said the project is excellent news.
“The local watercourses, including Lough Foyle and the bathing waters at Benone Strand, will significantly benefit from this major investment. It brings welcome news for the construction industry in Northern Ireland,” he said.