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Minister checks out willows technology at Drumkee WwTW

Regional development minister Danny Kennedy has seen first hand NI Water's new natural willows wastewater treatment system when he visited Drumkee Wastewater Treatment Works in Dungannon today.

Regional development minister Danny Kennedy (left) with NI Water's Sean HoganRegional development minister Danny Kennedy (left) with NI Water's Sean Hogan

The willows wastewater treatment system is being used for the first time in Northern Ireland. The minister met with representatives from NI Water including NI Water chairman Sean Hogan and representatives from Resourceful Organics, which will implement the new technology for the utility.

The project uses willows as a natural filter system (biofiltration) to clean wastewater. It is hoped this natural technology will provide NI Water with a robust reliable solution for the cleaning and treatment of wastewater in other rural areas, and provide significant benefits in terms of reducing capital expenditure, carbon footprint and environmental sustainability.

The technology involves recycling effluent or wastewater produced from the existing Drumkee WwTW in County Tyrone, which will then be used to irrigate willow growing on neighbouring land.
Providing a natural filter system, the wastewater passes through the willows and is cleansed of impurities.
Kennedy said: “This is an extremely exciting and innovative pilot project for Northern Ireland, which will improve wastewater treatment in the Dungannon area through the use of willows technology. There are many environmental benefits for Northern Ireland through this natural technology as Willows can absorb a considerable amount of nutrient and can easily grow in our climate.
“I welcome this forward-thinking approach in not only the cleaning and treatment of wastewater, but also in helping to reduce NI Water’s carbon footprint.” 

Hogan added: “This project at Drumkee Wastewater Treatment Works is a pilot project for NI Water and may become a benchmark for other wastewater treatment plants across Northern Ireland, particularly in rural areas.

“NI Water staff have been working closely with our partners − Resourceful Organics, AFBI and NIEA to develop this natural wastewater treatment technology. The long term benefits for Northern Ireland through this sustainable willows technology will be hugely significant in terms of the reduction in carbon emissions. NI Water looks forward to monitoring the progress of this new natural form of wastewater treatment.”

John Gilliland, representing Resourceful Organics, said: “As regulations for the disposal of wastewater and sludge become stricter, environmentally acceptable options must continue to be found to dealing with these wastes. Sustainable solutions must be developed in order to protect our environment. I look forward to developing this partnership with NI Water and progressing with this innovative pilot project at Drumkee.”

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