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Northern Ireland Water – Serving the public

Priding itself on being Northern Ireland’s most essential service utility, supplying 560m-litres of clean water a day to around 1.8m people as well as treating 320 million litres of wastewater a day.  It operates 23 water treatment works with 360 water pumping stations and we have 26,700 km of water mains, 15,200 km of sewers, some of which are over 100 years old, and 656 wastewater treatment works.  Northern Ireland Water has a strong commitment to investing in its infrastructure to ensure optimum service is delivered to its customers.

As part of this commitment PC15, the third price control for Northern Ireland Water, commenced in April. This marks the start of a six-year period of investment that will run until 2021. Mark Sefton, Senior Project Sponsor, recently outlined to Construction Industry News what this involves: “I work within the Wastewater Capital Procurement Team, which mainly deals with wastewater networks and infrastructure projects. One of my main responsibilities involves overall Project Management of both the planned and unplanned sewerage rehabilitation programmes for Northern Ireland.

“The planned rehabilitation programme has a total capital value over our PC15 delivery period of around £18m and will be focused on maximising and improving the existing sewerage network. The unplanned element has a total capital value of around £4.5m over the same timeframe.”

Project Management services on the planned and unplanned rehabilitation projects are being provided by AECOM Ltd on behalf of NI Water, with Capita Property and Infrastructure Ltd acting as cost management partners. Our contract delivery partners are John Graham Construction Ltd, Dawson-Wam Ltd, BSG Civil Engineering Ltd and Geda Ovivo Ltd.

“These contractors are our Tier 1 suppliers who have been appointed to our Lot 3, which is our Water and Wastewater Infrastructure – Major Works framework,” adds Mr Sefton. “This along with all our capital delivery frameworks was developed by our in-house engineering procurement team and has been in place since January 2014. To get on the framework contractors had to meet a variety of quality and cost criteria, within the OJEU process. In addition to this they had to demonstrate other factors such as previous experience and the capacity to deliver larger infrastructure projects.”

“The planned rehabilitation programme has a total capital value over our PC15 delivery period of around £18m and will be focused on maximising and improving the existing sewerage network. The unplanned element has a total capital value of around £4.5m over the same timeframe.”

Mark Sefton, Senior Project Sponsor

This level of investment reflects Northern Ireland Water’s commitment to the delivery of its service to customers. “We are a customer-focused organisation, and one of the biggest challenges is to ensure that we deliver optimum service to our customers. For example, the majority of work on the sewerage network takes place in urban areas, which has potential implications for the wider public and businesses in particular. In order to minimise this we carry out a substantial amount of preparatory work to inform both domestic and business customers of the nature of the proposed work and the likelihood of disruption. We endeavour throughout the works to minimise disruption to their day-to-day lives and businesses.

“Our customers are our number one priority at all times and we have our own internal communications team that assist with customer liaison. Wherever possible we use innovative ‘low dig’ or ‘no dig’ methods, which will help minimise disruption for our customers.

“We spend around £2.5m a year clearing blocked sewers so part of the need for the sewer rehabilitation project is to identify defects in about 26km of Northern Ireland’s sewerage network over the first two years and to then carry out any necessary repair or replacement work. The ultimate aim of the work is to provide local communities with the benefits of improved sewage systems that are less prone to failure due to blockages and sewer collapses, thereby reducing the risk of associated flooding and environmental pollution.”

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With the CAPEX over the six-year PC15 period being around £900m and the OPEX being £1.2bn, it is clear that Northern Ireland Water is committed to providing an effective sewerage system across Northern Ireland.