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NI Water to trial willows in biofiltration first

NI Water is to trial the use of willows as a natural vegetative filter to clean wastewater from its site in Dungannon.

Pictured above: John Gilliland of Resourceful Organics (left) and Bill Gowdy NI Water’s director of engineering procurement 

The company hopes this technology will provide it with a solution for the cleaning and treatment of wastewater in other rural areas, while reducing its capital expenditure and carbon footprint.

The commercial pilot will see NI Water partner with Resourceful Organics, in a project which is the first of its kind in Northern Ireland.

The scheme will test the use of willows as a natural filter (biofiltration) system to clean wastewater from Drumkee Wastewater Treatment Works.

The proposal involves recycling the effluent or wastewater produced from the works,which will then be used to irrigate willow growing on neighbouring land.

The willows provide a natural filter system, which will be used to clean wastewater, which will then be filtered through the willows and cleansed of impurities. According to NI Water the willows also provide diverse habitats for a wide range of wildlife.

Bill Gowdy, director of engineering procurement at NI Water, said: “This is a great first step in trialling an innovative environmental wastewater solution for Northern Ireland and we look forward to monitoring the progress of this new natural form of wastewater treatment.”

According to John Gilliland, of Resourceful Organics, willows are one of the easiest plants to grow in the UK’s climate and have the ability to absorb a substantial amount of nutrient, either as a liquid or sludge.

“As regulations for the disposal of wastewater and sludge become stricter, environmentally acceptable options must continue to be found for dealing with these wastes.” he explained.

Author: Conor McGlone, Reporter, water and environment division
Topic: Innovation , Treatment
Tags: effluent , wastewater treatment , Northern Ireland


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