City council wastewater consent application delayed





Significant work is under way as Palmerston North City Council prepares to lodge its consent for the treatment and discharge of its wastewater for up to the next 30 years. In September, the council confirmed that its future discharge would be a hybrid option, with treated wastewater being discharged to the Manawatu¯ River 75 per cent of the time, and during the rest of the time a combination of land and river. The council also committed to having the highest treatment in New Zealand. Since then, eight major pieces of work required as part of the consent application have started. These include further modelling of wastewater with various population projections for the next 50 years, monitoring the river water quality and ecology, designing the new additions for the treatment plant, determining the pipe requirements for the land discharge, working on mitigations for any impact on the river or land, and finding suitable areas for land discharge. The council needs to find land where irrigation could occur, but it doesn’t need to have bought the land when it lodges consent, chief infrastructure officer Sarah Sinclair says. “To identify this land, we need to test soil. We will be doing that west of Palmerston North, including some properties in the Manawatu¯ and Horowhenua districts. We have selected some properties where we would like to test to give us a good cross section of soil types and will be contacting those landowners. We’ll also be letting people in the community know that we are testing, as we may need to test other sites as well.” Testing land is not necessarily an indication the council would like to purchase that land. “Palmerston North City Council have always said we would like land purchases to be on a willing buyer/willing seller basis, so over the coming years we’d be looking to have those conversations and carry out further testing if needed. If large properties come up for sale in Palmerston North’s west, and close to our treatment plant, then we will consider testing it, and may consider purchasing. We will be working closely with landowners over the coming weeks and months directly as we work through this process.” The council’s wastewater consents expire in 2028. It was due to apply for new consents by next month but over the past two years there have been significant delays to it work programme due to Covid-19 lockdowns, Sinclair says. “We have advised Horizons Regional Council that it will take us until the end of 2022 to put forward our new consent application. Horizons has acknowledged the likely programme delay and is aware of the significant and complex work that council have done to develop our best practicable option and progress the consent application. “This won’t affect our ability to design and build the new treatment or discharge requirements in time for the 2028 consent expiry.”