Northern Ireland Water's story
The innovative solution delivered at Ballykelly includes a solar farm equipped with over 300 solar panels which will power the entire works during the summer months and be supplemented by the grid supply during the winter period. The marrying of traditional and natural wastewater treatment processes at Ballykelly not only provides a robust long-term solution for the village, but also provides an area rich in biodiversity to enhance the local land and water environment.
Offering the best of both worlds, the more traditional, mechanical side of the WwTW includes an inlet works, activated sludge plant, final settlement tanks and return activated sludge pumping station. These processes are controlled by a state-of-the-art mechanical control centre (MCC) and powered using solar means. In a further sustainable move, the backup generator provided for the works has been recycled from another NI Water site.
Once the wastewater has made its way through the mechanical processes, the effluent gravitates to the ICW where it is refined and polished to produce the highest quality discharge.
With a variety of native planting, the ICW creates a wide range of vegetative habitats for macroinvertebrates such as mayfly and stonefly to survive and for wildfowl to nest providing enriched biodiversity in the area.
The Ballykelly WwTW site also includes a dedicated area for trialling wastewater treatment innovations to help enhance NI Water’s process selection in the future. The facility includes access to raw sewerage entering the works, power and an area of hardstanding suitable for a containerised trial system to be installed. The custom-designed facility provides NI water and suppliers with the opportunity to test innovative new processes and equipment in a safe environment, as any outputs can be safely returned to the head of the main treatment works.
Useful learnings from Northern Ireland Water
The NI Water journey piloting Integrated Constructed Wetlands (ICW) commenced over five years ago with a number of visits to ICW's in the Republic of Ireland. NI Water staff organised a visit involving the local community from Stoneyford, which resulted in the community embracing the first pilot ICW being constructed in Northern Ireland.
The initial solution at Stoneyford was for the entire treatment solution but NI Water has had challenges achieving the final ammonia effluent standard, so a traditional polishing solution has been added.
With Ballykelly being a much larger population than Stoneyford a traditional aeration plant has been constructed with the ICW process providing the final polishing for the effluent.
Students from local companies - BSG Civil Engineering, Doran Consulting and RPS - got an opportunity to visit the site as part of a recent training day. Future educational visits in the local area are also planned.
Northern Ireland Water's metrics
Amount of solar energy produced (100kW).