Over £200,000 worth of damage has been caused to an award winning ecological wastewater treatment works in Stoneyford.
Vital equipment has been destroyed at Stoneyford Wetland and youths have been blamed for climbing a 2.4 metre security fence in two recent incidents.
John Griffin from NI Water said, “The most serious part of this incident is the danger posed to those who entered the site.
“If someone had fallen into the pond, the bacterial risks of sewage would very likely result in extreme sickness and requiring hospital treatment.
“The location of this facility is also a factor, a cry for help would not be heard and it could prove difficult for emergency services to find.”
Mr Griffin went onto say, “Unfortunately, vandalism is an all too common problem at some of our sites.
“This is the second incident of vandalism at this site in the last few weeks.
“The previous occasion in May also involved damage to an excavator and water sampling equipment.
“This incident also involved an attack to a high voltage power supply box which is extremely dangerous equipment.
“All our facilities provide an essential service for the community and environment, so any damage can potentially impact on service delivery by NI Water.”
The wetland is a brand new type of wastewater treatment process which is being piloted at Stoneyford village.
“NI Water takes all reasonable steps to ensure the safety of our sites, but we would point out that our working sites should only be accessed by trained and qualified personnel. I would call on those who are involved in vandalism and unauthorised access to stop immediately.”
The integrated constructed wetland (ICW) was established in Stoneyford in April 2014 by Northern Ireland Water at a cost of £1.3m.
As one of the first municipal wastewater treatment facilities of its kind to be created in Northern Ireland its objective was to provide improved wastewater treatment for the village whilst creating an aesthetically pleasing area, rich in biodiversity with potential recreational capacity.
The ICW was a flagship project for NI Water and an industry-leading example of how wastewater treatment can be integrated into and complement a local indigenous ecosystem. The project provides a fully sustainable, low cost, low energy and low maintenance alternative to the modern, high technology-based wastewater treatment solutions.
Police in Lisburn are investigating. They can be contacted on 0845 600 8000.