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The SWELL project represents a cross-border partnership comprising NI Water, Irish Water, Agri-Food & Biosciences Institute (AFBI), Loughs Agency and East Border Region, working collaboratively to improve water quality within the shared waters of Carlingford Lough and Lough Foyle.


The partnership will utilise best practice, innovation and knowledge sharing to effectively achieve the outputs and results of the Interreg VA Programme. Through engineering excellence, strategic catchment investigation and modelling, SWELL will deliver sustainable upgrades to wastewater assets on both sides of the border and make a positive contribution towards ‘Good’ Water Framework Directive classification.

The SWELL project is being funded under the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

The ERDF contribution to this application is €30m (85%) with €5.29m (15%) being made available through match funding from the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DAERA) in Northern Ireland and the Department of Housing Planning and Local Government (DHPLG) in Ireland.

Programmes Outputs

Output Indicator 1

10,000 additional population served by improved wastewater treatment.

Output Indicator 2

Two sewerage network and wastewater treatment projects to improve water quality in shared transitional waters.

Water Framework Directive

The Swell Project Waves

The European Water Framework Directive (WFD) is a wide-ranging piece of legislation covering all water bodies. The main aim of the WFD is to raise the quality of all water bodies to ‘Good Ecological Status’ or better. This means that not only should the chemical water quality of our rivers, lakes and coastal areas be at good status, but also allassociated biological elements such as plants, invertebrates and fish.

If any one of these elements is deemed to be below ‘Good Ecological Status’ then that water body will be determined to have failed to meet its target.

Carlingford Lough

The Shared Waters

Carlingford Lough

Carlingford Lough is a sea lough located between Counties Armagh and Down in Northern Ireland and County Louth in Ireland.

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Lough Foyle

The Shared Waters

Lough Foyle

Lough Foyle is a shallow estuarine sea lough located on the northern coast of Ireland, between County Donegal in Ireland and County Londonderry in Northern Ireland.

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An overview of the Shared Waters Enhancement & Loughs Legacy (SWELL) project.

Strategic Approach

The water quality within a coastal water body is affected by hydrodynamic, chemical and biological processes. Since environmental pressures do not recognise international boundaries and borders, the only mechanism for delivering improved water quality in the shared waters is to consider each lough catchment as a single ecosystem, impacted by polluters on both sides of the border.

SWELL comprises two separate projects – one for the Carlingford Lough drainage catchment and the other for the Lough Foyle drainage catchment. Each project will consist of a number of key activities including catchment studies, ecosystem modelling and capital upgrades (or construction packages) to deliver improvements to wastewater assets in Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Lough Foyle

Water Quality Improvements

Compliance with the Water Framework Directive (WFD) requires an integrated approach to the sustainable management and protection of water resources across multiple sectors and national boundaries. SWELL adopts a cross-border management approach to ensure provision of the necessary water quality improvements within the shared waters.

The desired improvement to water quality will be implemented by means of increasing the quality and/or decreasing the quantity of wastewater discharging to receiving water bodies deemed to be impacting on the shared transitional waters. This ‘end of pipe’ pollutant load is the only mechanism by which the project can be considered to have met its output indicators since many other external factors have an impact on achieving ‘good’ WFD status.
Although the Environmental Regulators have made significant progress on WFD implementation as part of the River Basin Management Plan process, many of the waterbodies within the Carlingford and Foyle catchments do not meet the requirements for ‘Good Ecological Status’.

Significantly more work and investment is therefore required to tackle the complex issues and deliver the required water quality improvements with appropriate solutions.

Lough Foyle

Sustainable Construction & Innovation

The Swell Project Waves

Sustainable practices are being incorporated into the design for all the SWELL wastewater asset upgrades. Such practices include for re-use of existing assets where possible; the use of materials with minimum embodied carbon; locally-sourced materials to reduce transport and promote the local economy and the efficient use of wastewater treatment technologies that have reduced energy requirements.

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