Northern Ireland

Portadown sewage ponds to be reborn as wildflower meadows

Flowers near the site of the new wildflower meadows
Image caption The meadows will be in full bloom by summer 2017

More than 15 acres of former sewage lagoons are being transformed into a wildflower meadow in a unique project in County Armagh.

It involves five large ponds at the treatment plant at Ballynacor.

The plant takes in sewage from Portadown, Lurgan and Craigavon.

Dumping the by-product of sewage treatment in such ponds was discontinued some years ago, but the lagoons remained.

The multi-million pound project saw the liquid being pumped out and treated.

Image copyright Richard Tyreman
Image caption The lagoons prior to pumping out

What remained was mixed with ash and cement and used to backfill the lagoons, which were then filled-up with soil.

Image copyright Northern Ireland Water
Image caption Heavy equipment was used in the backfilling operation

NI Water had intended to plant grass, but decided instead to create a wildflower meadow on the site together with Ulster Wildlife and the local council.

Image copyright EcoSeeds
Image caption NI Water had intended to plant grass, but decided instead to create a flower-filled meadow

About 300kgs of seed were gathered from nearby meadows at Oxford Island Nature Reserve and in County Fermanagh.

'Hive of activity'

The seed has now been sown and will bloom next summer when yellow rattle, ragged robin, meadowsweet and oxeye daisy will attract insects, birds and small mammals.

Image caption There will be no public access to the site

Ciaran Crozier, of Northern Ireland Water, said the company was keen to get involved in projects that enhanced biodiversity.

Conor McKinney, of Ulster Wildlife, said by next summer the former sludge lagoons would be a "hive of activity" for wildlife.

There will be no public access to the site.

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