From education to employment

SERC Staff Visit Fofanny Water Treatment Facility

SERC lecturing and technician staff from Construction, Engineering and Motor Vehicle on study visit to Fofanny Water Treatment Facility in the Mourne Mountains (L – R) Stephen Fairley, Thomas Nixon, Adrian Wilson, Terry Holland, Terry Hickland, Gary Hutton, Tom Trainor and Stephen McGreevey.

Our thoughts often turn to water usage at this time of year, particularly if we have had long dry spells of weather.

For a group of staff from SERC, water was just one of the themes for a morning study visit which included hearing about the engineering and construction process of the Fofanny Water Treatment Facility located in the Mourne Mountains, in County Down, Northern Ireland.

The visit was organised by Terry Hickland, Skills Development Champion –  Motor Vehicle, who, as with most of our teaching team, worked in industry before coming to the College.  Terry owned a fleet of road-going concrete mixers and was engaged in the transport of ready mixed concrete during the construction of the £17.5m water treatment plant back in 2003.

Terry said, “The Fofanny Water Treatment Facility is a feat of engineering when you consider 30,000m3 of boulder clay and rock had to be excavated before the erection of the submerged reinforced concrete structure.   This involved delivery of 9,000m3 of structural concrete being delivered to the site over a two-year period.

Terry added, “The trucks were loaded at the Readyuse Concrete Plant, Banbridge.   Since the concrete had an operational window of two hours, before the chemical hardening process became irreversible, a one-way road system was organised in consultation with the Department of Infrastructure to accommodate the large vehicles on the narrow country roads to the site.

“There were only two days lost during the whole of the construction, this was due to heavy snow, and only two consignments, out of a total of 1500, were rejected as they did not meet the required specification. The last concrete was poured onto the building’s bison slab roof system in 2005, allowing the internal infrastructure to be installed.”

SERC staff in High Viz jackets in the water treatment facility
Gary Presho from NI Water leads the SERC team on the tour of the facility.

Terry concluded, “It was fantastic to go back and see the plant in operation.  The visit helps our team bring engineering and construction to life for the students and will be something we can reference as part of a range of programmes from Heavy Vehicle to Engineering, to Mechatronics and Construction.”

If you are wondering why you never really noticed the Fofanny Water Treatment Plant whilst driving through the Mournes, it is because a major part of the project involved returning the land to its natural state. This was achieved through landscaping and transplanting indigenous vegetation including over a thousand heathers and sixty-five hundred trees.

Fofanny Water Treatment Facility nestled into the Mourne Mountains

The SERC team would like to thank Gary Presho, Supply Area Manager, NI Water who facilitated the tour.

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