NI WATER CHIEF APOLOGISES FOR ENLER RIVER SEWAGE SPILL

HE HEAD of NI Water has apologised for her company polluting the Enler River with sewage over the summer.

The river, which runs from Dundonald through Comber and on towards Strangford Lough, was hit by a serious sewage spill during a heatwave in June.

An angling club hoping to fish at Ward Bridge near Parkway in Comber was disgusted to find vile pockets of raw sewage along with used wet wipes and sanitary items floating in the water.

Club members claimed the problem had been happening for years, and feared the latest spill could be a threat to wildlife.

And although NI Water has the right to discharge at the site, it’s only supposed to be done in heavy rain – leaving the anglers questioning why it happened during a hot and dry spell, as was the case in June.

Now the water company has issued an apology to Ards and North Down Council over the issue, blaming a blocked sewer pipe for the spill.

“We can only apologise for the issue and the understandable concern caused to residents and the council,” stated NI Water chief executive, Sara Venning.

“The regrettable sewage spill that occurred in the Enler River, Comber, was as a result of a blockage of a combined sewer outfall pipe in the area, causing waste to back up and overflow.

“On receipt of reports of the problem, our team swiftly attended to investigate and resolve the issue.”

Ms Venning added that within a few months, NI Water plans to start construction on a major overhaul of its sewerage infrastructure in Comber, which she hopes will sort out the problem.

That includes an upgrade to a pumping station on Upper Crescent, close to the Ward Bridge site, as well as the complete replacement of a pumping station that sends all of Comber’s waste for treatment at a works located between Newtownards Road and the shore of Strangford Lough.

“Following completion, it will improve sewerage services in the area and mitigate against the reoccurrence of problems affecting Enler River,” said the chief executive.

Her apology was discussed at a meeting of the council’s Corporate Services Committee last week, with alderman Philip Smith commenting that he’s glad NI Water have acknowledged and apologised for the spill.

“It’s good to see there is an investment plan to ensure that there’s no repetition of this,” said the UUP group leader.

“The spillage is in a very highly used area; animals use this area, and it is good that NI Water have acknowledged this, having had it flagged up to them in the first instance.”