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Work completes at £18m Ards North Wastewater Improvement Project


An extensive wastewater project aimed at improving the quality of bathing waters along part of the Ards Peninsula has been completed by NI Water ahead of the 2023 summer tourist season.

The £18m Ards North Wastewater Improvement Project got underway in May 2021 and included the construction of new wastewater pumping stations and pipelines to rationalise and upgrade the wastewater infrastructure in the Carrowdore, Ballywhiskin and Ballywalter catchments.

At the heart of the project was a new state-of-the-art wastewater treatment works (WwTW), constructed by BSG Civil Engineering on a greenfield site, off the Ganaway Road in Ballywalter.

Known as the Ards North WwTW, the new treatment facility has been designed to treat all wastewater flows from the villages of Carrowdore, Ballywhiskin and Ballywalter – as well as local caravan parks – to strict environmental standards before discharging the treated effluent out to sea via a new long sea outfall pipe, constructed off the coast at Ballyferris by Farrans Construction.

Damien McKeown, NI Water Senior Project Manager said: “This major multi-million-pound project – consisting of the construction of a host of modern new pumping stations, pipelines and treatment works – demonstrates NI Water’s commitment to ensuring that our wastewater network and treatment facilities are of world-class ability.

“The investment made by NI Water will deliver significant environmental improvements, including cleaner beaches and bathing waters and will support long-term economic growth in local development and tourism.”

Paying tribute to the project team and local stakeholders, Mr McKeown added:

“It was fantastic to utilise the expertise of two local contractors on the project – Maghera-based BSG Civil Engineering and Belfast-based Farrans Construction and to benefit from their local supply chain to deliver a high-quality wastewater solution. I’d like to thank both contractors as well as our consultant engineers from TetraTech for their efforts in delivering this complex and challenging project within the allocated timeframe and ahead of the 2023 summer tourist season.

“Finally, on behalf of the project team, I would like to say a special thank you to all the landowners, residents, businesses and holidaymakers in the locality for their patience and cooperation during the two-year construction programme. Projects such as these can only be successfully carried out with the support of local landowners and other stakeholders including Ards & North Down Borough Council and their assistance throughout has been greatly appreciated.”

The state-of-the-art Ards North WwTW – which can treat flows from nearby caravan parks – has been expertly designed so that it can deal with the fluctuations in summer and winter populations in the area.

To boost the sustainability of the treatment facility, 138 solar panels have been fitted to the roof of the new control building which will produce over 45,000 kWh per annum. This renewable energy could save NI Water up to £300k over 25 years. Charging points for NI Water’s growing fleet of electric vehicles have also been installed at the new treatment works.

Welcoming the green elements incorporated into the new Ards North WwTW, David McCullough NI Water’s Head of Wastewater added:

NI Water has an ambitious strategy to address the climate emergency and aims to be be net zero energy by 2030 and net zero by 2040. As the biggest user of electricity and the second largest landowner, we have a unique opportunity to do this by harnessing our assets for a wide range of environmental initiatives. 

“The installation of a PV solar system at the Ards North WwTW site and the inclusion of charging points for our electric vehicles (EVs) demonstrates NI Water’s continuing endeavours to reduce our operational impact in a bid to enhance and protect the natural environment.

“We are fully committed to delivering vital water and wastewater services through cleaner, greener means where possible for the benefit of our environment and our communities throughout Northern Ireland.”