In 2014, when it became clear that the drainage infrastructure in Belfast and across Northern Ireland was inadequate to meet the requirements expected of it, the NI executive approved the development of a Strategic Drainage Infrastructure Plan (SDIP) for Belfast to:
- Protect against flooding by managing the flow of water through a catchment from source to sea;
- Enhance the environment through effective wastewater management and the provision of blue/green spaces to benefit local communities; and
- Grow the economy by providing the necessary capacity in our drainage and wastewater management systems to facilitate new development projects including house building.
The Living With Water Programme (LWWP) was established to deliver this Plan.
Living With Water is a new approach to the provision of drainage and wastewater infrastructure which promotes holistic and integrated solutions that achieve multiple benefits at reduced cost and disruption. For example by using open spaces and watercourses to enhance the environment, promoting recreational opportunities and by sustainably managing water to help reduce flood risk. This is commonly referred to as blue/green infrastructure. In addition to blue/green infrastructure it is recognised that significant investment is also required in more traditional “hard engineered” infrastructure, like sewers, pumping stations and upgrades to our Wastewater Treatment Works (WwTW).
Whilst the Department is leading this programme, it is working closely with many key stakeholders from across central and local government to develop sustainable drainage solutions. The Department’s main partners in developing the Plan are:
NI Water, the Utility Regulator, DAERA, the NI Environment Agency and Belfast City Council.