INFRASTRUCTURE Minister Nichola Mallon has allocated £344.5 million funding for essential water and sewerage services as part of her 2021/22 budget.
The Minister made the announcement during a visit to Derg Water Treatment Works where a major £12 million upgrade is about to get underway.
The works serve Strabane and Omagh as well as supplying water into the Fermanagh area.
Minister Mallon said: "The beginning of this £12 million upgrade shows exactly why it is essential that NI Water continues to receive sufficient funding to enable the continued improvement of our water and wastewater system, and to deliver the infrastructure required for housing, jobs and economic growth.
“This essential work will not only improve the water quality within the Derg network but will provide additional security of the water supply to the Castlederg and Strabane supply area and further afield.
"A more efficient works will directly help approximately 40,000 people as well as protecting the environment by improving the herbicide and organics removal at the plant. This is good news for people in Strabane, Omagh and Fermanagh."
She continued: "I want these benefits realised for more areas throughout the North which is why I have allocated £344.5 million from my budget for essential water and sewerage services which will fund upgrades like this. I am pleased to be committing the full amount recommended by the Utility Regulator for 2021/22.
"The existing Derg Water Treatment Works was built in 2002 so an upgrade is well overdue. Unfortunately this is the case in many areas throughout the North which is why addressing this historic underfunding of our water and sewerage infrastructure is one of my key priorities.
“The supply of clean, safe drinking water and the provision of an effective sewerage system is fundamental to public health, economic development and a thriving environment.
"This funding will help secure this infrastructure which is vital for our ambitions to grow and thrive.”
Sara Venning, NI Water’s chief executive added: “The investment at Derg Water Treatment Works is one of our biggest investments in the water infrastructure and is a great example of what can be done, when the necessary funding is in place.
"We were delighted to have the opportunity to show the Minister around the site where the upgrade will take place and look forward to forging ahead with our ambitious investment programme to deliver a world-class water and sewerage service.
“NI Water welcomes the recent confirmation that funding for year one of our business plan has been secured.
"We see this positive funding position at the outset of the six-year programme as a statement of intent and look forward to the necessary funding being put in place until 2027.”
Minister Mallon concluded: “I have also been clear that tackling the climate crisis is a priority for me and NI Water has an ambitious strategy to address the climate emergency.
"The allocation of this funding will also help them to reduce their operational impact and enhance and protect the natural environment for the benefit of our communities right across Ireland.”