Calls to extend survey of Saintfield sewerage

Calls to extend survey of Saintfield sewerage

15 August 2018

NORTHERN Ireland Water has been asked to include the Derryboye and Darragh Cross areas in a major survey of the sewerage system in nearby Saintfield.

The survey, which is expected to take 18 months to complete, has been ordered after it was revealed that a ban has been imposed on all new development in the town.

NI Water is not permitting new connections to the sewerage system and has confirmed that while Saintfield’s sewage treatment plant is nearing the end of its treatment capacity, it currently complies with stringent environmental discharge standards.

Confirmation of the temporary ban comes amid local concern about alleged sewage spills from the treatment plant and a persistent problem at the Old Grand Jury Road in the town where raw sewage spews out from a manhole cover after periods of particularly heavy rain.

NI Water has confirmed it is developing a drainage area planning model for the Saintfield area which is expected to take 18 months to complete, with the exercise also focusing on the treatment plant. 

When the survey has been completed, it will be used to identify potential upgrades of the current system which will only be implemented, subject to prioritisation and funding availability.

Last week, senior NI Water officials met with Strangford MP Jim Shannon and Rowallane councillors Billy Walker and Terry Andrews to discuss sewage issues in Saintfield. Also during the meeting, the politicians made a case for including Derryboye and Darragh Cross in the proposed survey.

The elected representatives believe there is a case for increasing capacity at the treatment plant in Saintfield and connecting it to homes in Darragh Cross and Derryboye.

Politicians believe it makes economic sense to draw up one scheme designed to improve sewage treatment in all three areas and ensure homes in areas like Lindsay Cottages in Derryboye are connected to a mains system. Waste water in this area is currently discharged into a sceptic tank which at times is problematic.

Cllr Walker, who requested last week’s meeting with NI Water, said he hopes “common sense will prevail” and that officials can come up with a solution to meet the needs of consumers in the Saintfield, Derryboye and Darragh Cross areas.

“I believe it is prudent to design a scheme for all three areas as part of one contract. What is the point in upgrading the system in Saintfield and then have to carry out similar work in Derryboye and Darragh Cross in the future?” he asked.

“There is clearly a major issue to address in Saintfield. Money to upgrade the existing sewerage system must be identified as the ban on all new development simply cannot remain in place indefinitely.”

The Saintfield Development Association said there is currently very little land zoned for new development in the town and believes the current infrastructure cannot accommodate much more.

It is pleased NI Water is taking the issue seriously by ordering the comprehensive survey and hopes whatever proposals arise out of it are implemented as soon as possible.

NI Water has confirmed the solutions identified as a result of the drainage area planning model will implemented, subject to prioritisation with NI Water stakeholders and availability of funding.