Gibraltar Chronicle Logo
Local News

Govt highlights investments in sewage network, despite treatment plant delays

Pic by Eyleen Gomez

The Gibraltar Government said it had spent nearly £10m on Gibraltar’s sewage network over the past decade, as it highlighted investments aimed at accommodating population growth even as the Rock continues to pump raw effluent into the sea.

The government outlined different work on the sewage network but acknowledged too delays in delivering a waste-water treatment plant after an earlier preferred bidder went bust.

Earlier this year the government launched a new procurement process for the plant.

“The purpose of this is to invest and design a plant to meet the population and effluent flow increases in the next 20 years,” No.6 Convent Place said in a statement.

“All proposals will be subject to a rigorous environmental assessment process and the Department of the Environment is open to consider alternative placement locations [to Brewery Crusher] and solutions, which will be given equal consideration.”

“The Government of Gibraltar is confident that the new procurement process will allow significant progress to be made this coming year with the aim of having an Urban Wastewater Treatment Plant constructed and commissioned as soon as possible.”

It gave no sense of the timescale for delivery in the statement, however.

Elsewhere, the Technical Services Department has been focused on long-term improvements to cater for increased development activity in Gibraltar.

The works have included reviewing existing maintenance programmes, improvements to existing networks and planning for future requirements to ensure Gibraltar’s network is robust.

The department has also targeted areas prone to flooding, including stepping up a gully-cleansing programme.

Over the last six weeks, half of Gibraltar’s public gully network has been targeted, with work continuing.
The department is also putting in place additional drainage points to add resilience.

In parallel, it has also increased the desilting, flushing and cleansing programme of Gibraltar’s entire network, in particular focusing on the oldest and least efficient lines within the city walls.

“This is a vital component of duties because by targeting problems at source a larger build-up further downstream is avoided, while at the same time ensuring that Gibraltar’s smaller sized network has as much capacity as physically possible,” No.6 said.

The Technical Services Department is also working with developers, designers and other entities to maximise the efficiency of Gibraltar’s network, the Government said.

It is looking at the network holistically by grouping developments together, ensuring what is required for an expanded area is installed rather than what is required for a single building.

“By taking this approach, we ensure that not only do we have sufficient capacity for the future but also minimise the disruption to the public,” No.6 said.

“Our aim is to improve the manner in which our network operates and in that way put ourselves in the best possible position to having sufficient capacity for years to come.”

By way of example, the Government said it was working with Wastage Products Limited on “the extremely important” sewage network by relining pipes along Line Wall Road.

“This method is a very sustainable means of fixing a pipe, reducing carbon footprint by up to a third compared to conventional methods,” the Government said.

“Over 150 metres of our infrastructure has been relined and fitted with a 3cm thick new pipe made of cured epoxy resin, in just six weeks, which only included three weekends of full road disruptions.”

“The cost of this has been around £600,000, a fraction of the conventional cost of road opening.”

“The alternative option would have been to open a 150 metres long, and 4 to 6metres deep trench to change the pipe.”

“This work has added to the investment already made in the last 10 years where 550 metres of the main sewer at Line Wall Road, preparing Gibraltar’s infrastructure for the predicted population growth.”

The Minister for Technical Services, Paul Balban, said: “I believe it is important to highlight the unsavoury and dangerous works carried out by Technical Services Department and our contractors.”

“No matter how much we develop and beautify our urban landscape, without efficient and effective sewage infrastructure and those that manage, repair, maintain, desilt these, it would be impossible to have a healthy and prosperous society.”

“We must also take more care, and be conscious when throwing waste down our toilets which will inevitably cause problems in our sewage network and is extremely bad for our environment.”

The Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo, added: “This government has worked towards improving our infrastructure in a way that is sustainable and durable for the ever-growing population of Gibraltarians, unlike previous administrations.”

“Investing in a wastewater treatment plant and the relining of our networks is unfortunately not as attractive as announcing new developments to parks, but just as important if we want to build a Gibraltar that is suited to meeting the demands of not just 2022, but 2030 and onwards.”

“We are sometimes accused of spending lavishly and extravagantly by our political opponents. In fact, on the sewers, by their standards we have.”

“Whilst the GSD only spent about £200,000 per annum on average in the 16 years they were in office, we have spent just under a million a year - an average of £932,000 - in the last 10 years on vital maintenance and investment in this sewer infrastructure.”

“This demonstrates that we spend on the right things and in particular on essentials which were neglected by our opponents.”

Most Read

Download The App On The iOS Store