NI Water deny Erne sewer screens have been removed

NI WATER have insisted that the screens on the CSOs (Combined Sewer Overflows) have not been removed.

As reported in last week’s herald, reports of sewage sightings in Lough Erne have been made with Erne Anglers saying they believe that the CSO screens are no longer there.

The purpose of the screens is to ensure that solids such as sanitary towels, wet-wipes and bodily waste do not enter the lough.


“NI Water has not removed any screens at CSOs and EOs within the Enniskillen Drainage area,” said a spokeswoman.

“There are four overflow assets which are classified as Unsatisfactory Intermittent Discharges (UIDs) that are currently programmed for upgrade within the Price Control (PC) 21 Price Control period (2021/22 – 2026/27), with a total projected cost of £2.45 million.

“This investment is subject to the adequate funding of Northern Ireland Water throughout PC21 as well as land purchase and statutory planning approvals.

“NI Water appreciates the water quality concerns expressed about the local waterways, lakes and loughs. It is important to understand that all sewer systems are designed with emergency spill points, known as network combined sewer overflows (CSOs) or Emergency Overflows (EOs), at wastewater pumping stations.

“NI Water Operations staff carry out regular site checks to ensure that overflows are maintained and operate as designed – such as in prolonged rainfall events. However, some overflows operate when sewer network blockages occur.

“These are predominately caused by inappropriate material being disposed of down sinks, drains and toilets such as fats, oils and greases, wet wipes, nappies and sanitary products.”

Erne Anglers also cited a figure of 250,000 tonnes of sewage per year being pumped into Lough Erne which they say was obtained by a Freedom of Information request by NI Water.


The spokeswoman added: “It is important to clarify that the information quoted was not actual recorded data on discharges, but information which was generated from Drainage Area Study models developed by NI Water, it may have been misinterpreted by the Erne Anglers as ‘actual recorded’ spill information.

“The predicted spill frequencies generated by the Drainage Area Plan models are effectively an annual average, based on 20 years of historical recorded rainfall data.

“In line with industry best practice, the recorded rainfall is refined to suit specific catchment parameters and formulated into a 10-year average data set.”

NI Water also stated that while they have invested in the maintenance of the sewer network, under-funding has ensured they have not been able to invest more.

The spokeswoman continued: “There has been significant under-investment in NI Water for a prolonged period and this has affected the performance of the wastewater assets across the whole of Northern Ireland.

“Within the PC21, Price Control period (2021/22 – 2026/27), NI Water has prioritised circa £300 million to address unsatisfactory intermittent discharges from its sewer network which includes the Lough Erne drainage catchment.

“This investment was agreed with the Independent Utility Regulator and key stakeholders which includes the Northern Ireland Environment Agency.

“NI Water will invest £2.2 billion during the PC21 period (2021/22 to 2026/27), with over £1bn being invested in wastewater assets.

“However, the full scale of the wastewater capacity issues across Northern Ireland will realistically take at least 12 to 18 years, or two to three Price Control periods, to address.

“It is therefore critical that the PC21 business plan is fully funded, and all future investments will depend on the provision of funding to NI Water by the NI Executive.”

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The Fermanagh Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
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