|Irish Water, in partnership with NI Water, will commence construction works to upgrade the wastewater network in Omeath, Co Louth as part of a major cross-border project to improve water quality in Carlingford Lough and Lough Foyle.
The Shared Waters Enhancement and Loughs Legacy (SWELL) project, which has been awarded €35m under the EU’s INTERREG VA Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB), involves the construction of new wastewater treatment works as well as upgrades to sewerage networks on both sides of the border to address wastewater pollution and improve the quality of water in Carlingford Lough and Lough Foyle.
The project’s legacy will be the development of a unique ecosystem model that will support further improvements in these shared waters. Match-funding for the project has been provided by the Department of Agriculture, Environment & Rural Affairs in Northern Ireland and the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage in Ireland.
These works, which are the last in a programme of eight planned upgrade works under SWELL, will address infrastructural deficiencies in the sewer network in Omeath to ensure that all wastewater is transported to a new wastewater treatment plant being progressed separately by Irish Water. The SWELL network improvement works in Omeath, together with the construction of the new Omeath Wastewater Treatment Plant, will provide increased treatment capacity to meet the needs of the village, allow for future growth, reduce the impact of storm water overflows and improve the water quality of Carlingford Lough by ensuring wastewater is treated in compliance with EU directives.
Main construction works on the network upgrade will commence in early August 2021 and are expected to be completed in November. Works are being delivered by BSG Civil Engineering Ltd on behalf of Irish Water in adherence with HSE and government guidance on COVID-19.
Irish Water’s Conor Gilleran said, “This is the first time that targeted wastewater improvements to address wastewater pollution are being delivered on both sides of the border through collaboration between both water utilities. Separate to the SWELL project, Irish Water is also currently progressing plans to construct a new wastewater treatment plant in Omeath in order to treat wastewater in compliance with EU directives.
"The SWELL network upgrades in Omeath, alongside the new Omeath Wastewater Treatment Plant and the Northern Ireland Water upgrades, will improve water quality in Carlingford Lough. The SWELL project will also help to improve and safeguard into the future, the environmental, social and economic value of this renowned waterbody.”
Tomasz Piadlo, SWELL Project Manager for NI Water explained, “The SWELL project provides a welcome opportunity for both water utilities to work collaboratively to prioritise and align projects in a coordinated way so as to make maximum positive impact on the shared water bodies on the island of Ireland. The commencement of Irish Water’s work in Omeath marks another key milestone in the four-year SWELL project.
"The improvements being made at Irish Water wastewater assets in Donegal and Louth will support the extensive upgrades carried out across the border by NI Water to improve the water quality in Carlingford Lough and Lough Foyle.”
Highlighting the importance of the project Gina McIntyre, Chief Executive of the SEUPB, said: “We all know that nature does not respect geographical borders between regions. Therefore, cross-border cooperation is vital if we are to help protect our shared local environment. This project represents a significant and long-term investment from the INTERREG VA Programme in the water quality in Carlingford Lough and Lough Foyle.
"It is testament to what can be achieved when two jurisdictions work together to help address a common problem, such as wastewater pollution, and in doing so make significant long-lasting positive impacts on our local environment leading to a cleaner and safer future.”
Irish Water continues to work at this time, with local authority partners, contractors and others to safeguard the health and well-being of staff and the public and to ensure the continuity of drinking water and wastewater services.