Drainage And Wastewater Management Consultation Launched

A public consultation on an integrated plan for drainage and wastewater management for Belfast has been launched by Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon.

'Living With Water in Belfast' is the draft strategic plan for drainage and wastewater management for the greater Belfast area and is being developed as part of the Living With Water Programme. The programme is an exciting multi-agency initiative to take forward an integrated approach to drainage and wastewater management and covers the geographical area served by the six wastewater treatment works which discharge into inner Belfast Lough.

Opening the consultation process, the Minister said: "The health and well-being of our citizens, our environment and our economy are dependent on an effective water and sewerage service. Unfortunately, the existing drainage systems and treatment works are becoming increasingly overwhelmed and much of the drainage and wastewater infrastructure in the greater Belfast area is in urgent need of modernisation.
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"This is evident through increasing levels of sewer collapses and blockages, more regular instances of flooding and deteriorating water quality in watercourses and in the sea. Regrettably, climate change exacerbates this situation, which is why we need to act to protect against flooding now. This requires significant levels of investment, without which there will be major constraints on economic growth, on our ability to build new homes, likely increased pollution and damage to the environment and an increased risk to the populations' health and wellbeing."

Explaining the steps needed to address the issue, the Minister said: "Living With Water in Belfast proposes an integrated and collaborative approach, including new policies to encourage greener drainage solutions; sustainable drainage systems; river restoration works that focus on managing water; as well as hard engineered infrastructure such as bigger pipes, larger treatment works and higher flood defences.

"This is a £1.4 billion plan over 12 years. Since becoming Minister, I have been consistently making the case for the long-term investment in our sewerage networks and wastewater treatment facilities. This plan that I am opening for consultation today is a blueprint for future integrated water management, initially for Belfast which will then be rolled out to other areas across the North."

Addressing the potential for the Living with Water approach across the North, Minster Mallon continued: "I am very keen to see the Living With Water approach, to drainage and wastewater management, being extended beyond Belfast. I am therefore delighted to announce today that I have allocated £130k from this years' budget to start the development of a Living With Water feasibility study in Derry."

Concluding the Minister said: "I want to thank our partners in Northern Ireland Water, Belfast City Council, Northern Ireland Environment Agency and the Utility Regulator who have been working with officials in my department to develop this ambitious but necessary plan."

The consultation process opens today until 29 January 2021.

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