NI Water says Woodburn drilling will not affect public water supply

Campaigners have been showing their opposition to the project over recent weeks. INNT 12-803CON
Campaigners have been showing their opposition to the project over recent weeks. INNT 12-803CON

NI Water has again stressed that proposed drilling work at Woodburn will not have a detrimental impact on Newtownabbey’s water supply.

The company made the claim after concerns were raised by an environmentalist from Ballyclare, who said the water supply for the town and surrounding areas may become contaminated as a result of the planned work at the site.

Although Woodburn Reservoir does not supply water to Ballyclare, the member of the Permaculture Association, who wished to remain anonymous, said that it may become contaminated through the process of ‘soak’.

The environmentalist said that if the reservoir or the rivers around it became contaminated as a result of exploratory drilling at the site, water from the contaminated areas may come into contact with rivers and streams which were not firstly contaminated.

He claimed that with the overlap of flood plains of rivers and streams close to the drilling site, any cases of flooding that occur if water is contaminated, may contaminate the Castle River in Ballynure, which would in turn contaminate the Six Mile Water, which would flow into Lough Neagh, contaminating it as a result.

He said: “If the process of soak takes place after contamination has taken place, it will have detrimental affects for the water supply of Ballyclare and its surrounding areas.”

A spokesman for NI Water responded, saying: “This work is being undertaken by an independent company, InfraStrata, under a licence awarded by the Department of Enterprise Trade and Investment (DETI). All work is subject to the approval and agreement of the relevant authorities including the NIEA, DETI and Forest Service. InfraStrata cannot drill a permanent well without obtaining planning permission.

“The safeguarding of water quality is of primary importance to NI Water, and the company is satisfied that the proposed work will have no detrimental impact upon the impounding reservoir or the wider public water supply, either at Woodburn reservoir or elsewhere in Northern Ireland. NIEA and DETI are responsible for monitoring the work of InfraStrata and their impact on the wider environment.”

A spokesperson for InfraStrata said: “The wellsite will be made fully watertight preventing any liquids on the site from penetrating the ground below and will be surrounded by a high bund to trap all fluids, for safe and professional disposal.

“This will ensure there will be no adverse impact on the Woodburn River and local water catchment.”