First nature-based wastewater treatment works in Yorkshire completed near Doncaster

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Yorkshire’s first sustainable waste water treatment works has been completed near Doncaster.

Yorkshire Water’s Clifton wastewater treatment works has been created using 20,000 wetland plants.


The site has been transformed into an integrated constructed wetland, with the clay in the ponds and the plants naturally removing phosphorus from treated wastewater before it is returned to the environment.

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The new Clifton water works.The new Clifton water works.
The new Clifton water works.

The wetland ponds will provide the only wastewater treatment on site as a trial to monitor nature-based treatment processes.

An area of interconnected ponds the size of three Olympic swimming pools have been planted.

Michael Housby, lead project manager at Yorkshire Water, said: “This project is the first of its kind in Yorkshire and will provide a range of benefits at our Clifton treatment works, not only for the way we treat wastewater, but also for the local environment.

“The clay and wetland plants will naturally treat the wastewater at Clifton, reducing the reliance of energy-heavy treatment processes, providing a sustainable way to remove phosphorus while creating wildlife diversity and achieving a biodiversity net gain.

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“This project will hopefully lead to the creation of other similar sites across Yorkshire and we have already earmarked a number of treatment works around the region where we believe nature-based solutions can be implemented.”

Yorkshire Water partners Stantec and BarhaleDoosan JV have designed and constructed the wetland

Robert McTaggart, technical director at Stantec, said: “It has been fantastic to work in this collaborative partnership with Yorkshire Water and the Environment Agency to create a new integrated constructed wetland.

"Together we have blended open water ponds with shallow vegetated marshes to closely resemble a natural wetland. The outcome is a nature based low carbon solution which simulates physical, chemical, and biological treatment processes to remove phosphorus in a sustainable way.”

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Chris Mathers from BarhaleDoosan said: “It has been great to be involved with such a ground breaking programme and to see, with the completion of the planting what are, quite literally, the first green shoots of a new future for the site.

“This is a signature project and an important stepping-stone to creating new approaches to waste treatment.”

The wetland will also increase biodiversity in the area and attract a range of wildlife including bees, breeding birds, amphibians and reptiles.

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