Over the last 10 years, HMGoG has invested hugely in our sewage network to ensure a long lasting and sustainable infrastructure to keep up with the demands of our ever-growing population.
Urban Wastewater Treatment
Earlier this year, HMGoG announced the relaunch of the procurement process for the new Urban Wastewater Treatment Plant, in keeping with a manifesto commitment for this government. This had previously seen numerous delays due to the company initially awarded preferred bidder status going into liquidation.
HMGoG believes this new procurement process is necessary to proceed with the much-needed development of an Urban Wastewater Treatment Plant capable of serving Gibraltar’s needs.
The purpose of this is to invest and design a plant to meet the population and effluent flow increases in the next 20 years. All proposals will be subject to a rigorous environmental assessment process and the Department of the Environment is open to consider alternative placement locations and solutions, which will be given equal consideration.
HMGoG 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.
Reviewing Existing Maintenance
This year has been an extremely active year for the Technical Services Department’s (TSD) Infrastructure Section. TSD have been working on many fronts as they look to focus on long-term improvements to cater for increased development activity in Gibraltar.
These works have included reviewing existing maintenance programmes, improvements to existing networks and planning for future requirements to ensure our network is robust.
Storm Water Maintenance: This year TSD have been focussing a great deal of attention on tackling outstanding historical issues and targeting areas prone to flooding. The gully-cleansing programme has also been stepped up, and over the last 6 weeks alone half of our public gully network have targeted with works continuing apace. In addition, TSD are in the process of working on additional drainage points with the aim of being to add resilience against all foreseeable eventualities.
Foul Water Maintenance: TSD have 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 whilst at the same time ensuring that Gibraltar’s smaller sized network has as much capacity as physically possible.
Future Planning: Whilst ensuring what Gibraltar currently has in place works efficiently, TSD have also been working hand in hand with developers, designers and other entities to maximise the efficiency of our network. TSD are looking at our 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. 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”.
More recently, HMGoG in conjunction with Wastage Products Limited has continued to invest in 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.
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.
Minister for Technical Services, Paul Balban, said: “I believe it is important to highlight the unsavoury and dangerous works carried out by TSD 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 KC MP, said: “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 ten 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.”