Ormeau Avenue Sewerage Project Team – Most Considerate Constructors!

Ormeau Avenue Sewerage,-Tunnel face under Great Victoria Street
Tunnel face under Great Victoria Street

NI Water’s contractor, Dawson-WAM, has scooped a prestigious Considerate Constructors Award at a recent digital ceremony in recognition of their work on the Ormeau Avenue Sewerage Improvement Project. The £5 million project has been presented with the Considerate Constructors Scheme’s “2020 Most Considerate National Site Award.”

A benchmark for industry standards, the award acknowledges the efforts made from the outset to ensure that the project team were “considerate” in their approach and that the project did not unduly affect the lives of local residents, businesses and commuters.

Grahame Millar NI Water Project Sponsor said, “Dawson WAM and the NI Water project team adopted an extremely proactive approach from the initial phase of development.  Meetings were arranged with business representatives and  the local community to explain the extent of the work and careful traffic management was key in this busy city centre location.

“This was undoubtedly a challenging project to enhance the sewerage infrastructure and we are pleased to have delivered the benefits of reduced flood risk and environmental improvement, whilst also providing additional capacity to support economic development within this area of the city.

“I would like to thank all our stakeholders for their support of the project and congratulate the wider team involved in this award.”

“This is the most prestigious level of award at the 2020 National Site Awards and is recognition of the exceptional effort and commitment that the project team has made to reach the highest standards of performance. This site joins a very small number of Most Considerate National Site Award winners across the UK and is a fantastic achievement!”

Public safety and traffic management was paramount in this scheme and the site team were flexible in altering routes where possible to suit the needs of the public.   Several educational visits and fundraising initiatives were also instigated to raise money for local charities such as Chest Heart & Stroke.

Project Background

The major £5 million project involved the upgrade of major sewers within the Ormeau Avenue/Lower Ormeau Road, Dublin Road, Bruce Street, Sandy Row and Joy Street areas of Belfast. 

Some of the sewers within this area dated back to the late 1900’s and were in very poor condition.  In addition to the upgrade of the existing sewers in the area, the project included the construction of a new underground Wastewater Pumping Station within an existing car park in Hardcastle Street.

At the height of construction, shoppers and commuters on Great Victoria Street and the Dublin Road were oblivious to the fact a large sewer was being tunnelled right under traffic and pedestrians at a depth of 2 double decker buses!


Dawson WAM was awarded the construction contract in December 2017. Construction works involved the installation of a variety of combined, storm and foul sewers, ranging in diameter from 150mm to 2100mm, in one of the most trafficked areas of Belfast City Centre, as well as the design and build of the new wastewater pumping station.

Certain elements of the project proved extremely challenging, none less so than the installation of a 1200mm diameter combined sewer across Great Victoria Street and the 900mm diameter overflow sewers across the Dublin Road. It was not feasible to close these two busy arterial routes in Belfast city centre due to the daily volume of traffic.

Dawson WAM explored various trenchless options for these pipe installations, in collaboration with the Consultant Project Manager and the NI Water team. The technique of pipe jacking, using an open-face excavation shield at the head of each drive, was chosen, as it provided the capability to manually access and remove any unidentified underground obstructions encountered. The technique really proved its worth where drives encountered old timber piles, which were easily cut out. Other methods would not have provided access for the removal of such obstructions and run the risk of costly and extremely disruptive recovery of tunnelling equipment and completion by open-cut.

The project team overcame many construction challenges to successfully deliver the project in Autumn 2019, which has helped local communities in the area to thrive and develop, as well as supporting the development of the Linen Quarter area of Belfast. The project will also reduce the risk of out of sewer flooding, minimise blockages within the existing sewers, while improving water quality in the River Lagan.

A video of the Ormeau project can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCCZ_r9DAzQ