"We welcome the decision by the Horizons Regional Council to unanimously agree to withdraw the review into the City's existing wastewater consent, subject to the Palmerston North City Council beginning the process of obtaining a totally new consent." he says.
"It makes sense given that both Palmerston North City Council and Horizons have already agreed to a plan that can only improve the quality of the Manawatu River for everyone in a timely manner."
Mr Smith says the decision to end the review process provides the whole community with more certainty.
"There was a risk of ongoing and expensive legal action if the review process had been allowed to continue. We can now start working towards a long-term sustainable solution for the River," he says.
Palmerston North is committed to applying for new resource consents for the wastewater plant six years earlier than the current expiry date of 2028.
The Council will undertake a review to find the best practicable option for the City's wastewater treatment. The options include continuing to discharge into the river or moving to land based disposal or a mixture of both.
Consultations will be held with iwi and the wider community about those options before a final decision is reached and a new consent application made by June 2022.
"We've got a big job ahead. Investigating, obtaining consents and debt servicing all have a price. We're also expecting to face higher operational costs. All this will mean we'll need to find upward of $20m sooner than expected and, as a result, we'll possibly need to make changes to our spending priorities over the next few years."
"We can only give an estimate for the final cost of the whole project, but at this stage, it could be in the realm of $30-100 million dollars," Mr Smith says.
Mr Smith says Horizons' decision is another sign that everyone is working together to achieve the right outcome for the River and one that is also sustainable for the entire community.
For further information please contact:
Palmerston North City Mayor Grant Smith