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  • Consent submittedPalmerston North City Council has submitted its consent application for how it is proposing to treat and discharge the city’s wastewater over the coming decades. After four years of technical work and public engagement, the application to Horizons Regional Council outlines how the city council proposes to treat the city’s wastewater to the highest standard currently available in New Zealand. Mayor Grant Smith says lodging the application is a key milestone for the project. The application proposes wastewater would be discharged to the river 75 per cent of the time, and then a combination of river and land irrigation the rest of the time. “Having such a high treatment process means this water, when used on land, is considered a resource and could be used for other purposes including irrigation, growing crops or watering parks and reserves. In fact, we should now call it resource water.” The council sought legal advice in 2021 that confirmed it must continue to lodge and work on its consent application despite proposed government reforms, as it is a legal requirement of its current consent. Chief infrastructure officer Sarah Sinclair says the application has provided a lengthy period for any future treatment, technology advancements and discharge changes to be in operation. “When we reviewed other consent projects of this scale in New Zealand and in our wider region, they took between three and five years to complete. We’ve estimated we may then need several more years to get the necessary building consents and for the associated construction.” While the council is proposing the new treatment and discharge could be operating in 2033, these timeframes will be determined by Horizons.

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