Living with Water Programme - Background

Most of our urban drainage and sewerage systems are buried and most of us don’t really think about what happens to the contents from our toilets or sinks or what happens to the rain that falls on our roofs and driveways once it enters our drains. It is often only when we experience flooding first hand or have our daily commute affected by sewerage works that we take any notice of our drainage systems.

Yet, effective drainage and flood prevention is essential as it protects public heath, our vital infrastructure like hospitals, electricity sub-stations, transport links and our homes, and the environment in which we live.  In Belfast, NI Water maintains and operates over 4,800 km of sewers and DfI Rivers maintain around 396 Km of designated watercourses. There are also over 87km of private drains/sewers that are not being maintained by Government.  This drainage infrastructure needs significant future capital investment in order to reduce the risk of flooding, enhance the environment and allow for continued economic growth. 

DfI’s Water and Drainage Policy Division is leading the Living with Water Programme (LWWP) to deliver a Strategic Drainage Infrastructure Plan (SDIP) for Belfast.  The SDIP aims to get various stakeholders thinking about how we manage our water in a sustainable and holistic way. The LWWP is being progressed via 15 interlinked work packages and is being overseen by a Programme Board which includes representatives from DfI (Water and Drainage Policy Division, DfI Rivers, DfI Roads), NI Water, Belfast City Council, the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), the Department of Finance (DoF) and the Strategic Investment Board (SIB).

By working together to deliver integrated sustainable solutions to today’s problems and addressing future needs, the cost of capital works required can be reduced, flood risk can be managed, our environment enhanced and the local economy can grow.

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