New life for sewage lagoons

Working together to transform the former NI Water sewage lagoons into a wildlife haven is (from l-r), Roy Taylor, NI Water Catchment Manager, Richard Tyreman, Laing ORourke, Conor McKinney , Ulster Wildlife, Roisin McDade, NI Water Scientist and SCAMP officer, and Marcus Malley, ABC Council.
Working together to transform the former NI Water sewage lagoons into a wildlife haven is (from l-r), Roy Taylor, NI Water Catchment Manager, Richard Tyreman, Laing ORourke, Conor McKinney , Ulster Wildlife, Roisin McDade, NI Water Scientist and SCAMP officer, and Marcus Malley, ABC Council.

A whiff of hope is on the horizon for former sewage sludge lagoons near Lurgan which are to be transformed into a haven for wildflowers.

The lagoons which are close to the operational Ballynacor Wastewater Treatment Works in Derrymacash are to be developed into a wildflower meadow.

This will be welcome news for local residents who last year complained of a ‘putrid’ odour which appeared to emanate from the treatment works.

However, NI Water, which owns the site, said the odours had not been wafting from Ballynacor.

The development of a wildflower meadow on the seven hectare restoration site is being led by Ulster Wildlife in partnership with EcoSeeds, and Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, and is the first project of its kind in Northern Ireland.

The five sludge lagoons have been fully ‘remediated’ by NI Water, its operating contractor, Glen Water Ltd, and land reclamation specialists Vertase FLI, over a two year period through a process of ‘dewatering’ and stabilisation; mixing the sludge with cement and fly ash to form an almost impermeable fill – a first for land reclamation of this nature here.

Work recently got underway planting the in-filled lagoons, with over 300kg of native wildflower seeds harvested from local meadows in Oxford Island Nature Reserve and Fermanagh.

No corner of the site was left untouched and next year, the site will see its first shoots of colourful wildflowers including yellow rattle, ragged robin, meadowsweet and ox eye daisy which will attract pollinating insects, wild birds and small mammals.

Conor McKinney, of Ulster Wildlife said: “Creating a wildflower meadow on former sewage sludge lagoons is as hard as it gets and has never been done before in Northern Ireland. By working closely with leading experts, conducting trials, and establishing the right conditions on site, we’re confident it will be a success.”

Roisin McDade, scientist and SCAMP Officer with NI Water said: “This demonstrates what can be achieved when different organisations work together in partnership to improve our local environment.”