A major project in Sheffield that started in 2012 costing £78m has been completed that will make the River Don one of the cleanest rivers in Britain.
The scheme has transformed Yorkshire Water’s Blackburn Meadows waste water treatment works located opposite Meadowhall shopping centre, which serves around 832,000 people in Sheffield and Rotherham.
River water quality has been improved by spending over £40m on high-tech waste water treatment processes. This has resulted in the reduction of ammonia levels in water released into the River Don to meet the EU Fresh Water Fish Directive.
Water quality in the river is now believed to be healthier than at any point since the Industrial Revolution. The improvements also support efforts being made by the Don Catchment River Trust to re-introduce salmon into Sheffield city centre for the first time in over 100 years.
Measures have also been put in place to reduce the impact of any flooding events. This has involved installing a storm overflow system along with raising key parts of the site and refurbishing the existing pumping station to prevent storm-related debris entering the river.
Yorkshire Water was supported by contract partners Black & Veatch, Earth Tech Morrison and Morgan Sindall Grontmij during the project.
Richard Flint, chief executive at Yorkshire Water, said: “Blackburn Meadows waste water treatment works has been revolutionised during the last few years and is now a truly state-of-the-art infrastructure that Sheffield can be proud of.
“£78m is a significant sum but it highlights our commitment to improving water quality and wildlife in the River Don and also, crucially, protecting the site against the risk of extreme flooding happening again.”
Originally built in 1884, investment has been made to upgrade or re-build every aspect of the sewage plant which now features the latest technology. The massive re-construction has resulted in eight new primary settlement tanks, four new final settlements tanks, and a new aeration system that uses biological treatment to kill bacteria in waste water.
Mr Flint added: “The water in the River Don is now cleaner than at any time since the Industrial Revolution. So much so that the water we discharge back into the river can often be of higher quality than the existing river water. This highlights the great strides forward that have been made to protect the natural environment.”
The construction of a £23m anaerobic digestion plant is another key area of improvement to the site. This process enables sludge to be heated and converted into a biogas, which generates much of the site’s total electricity needs.