News, Events and Culture

Councils working together on river issues

Monday November 7 2011

Swift progress is being made on the issues raised with Palmerston North City's wastewater discharge consent with both councils signing a memorandum of understanding which outlines a joint programme of work to further investigate the issues.

Horizons Regional Council chief executive Michael McCartney said that because the Memorandum of Understanding confirms an agreed plan and timeline for addressing the city's waste water discharge issues, both councils could focus on the river and not on legal proceedings

"The memorandum of understanding demonstrates the city council's commitment to addressing the effect their discharge is having on the river and our commitment to work with them to achieve that goal. Providing the obligations and timeframes spelled out in this agreement are met, then we are able to put enforcement action to one side" said Mr McCartney.

The Memorandum outlines tasks including the scientific and technical staff working together on the issues with a view of coming up with agreed solutions. 

Palmerston North City Council Chief Executive, Paddy Clifford, said the two Councils would continue to work closely in the coming months as the joint work programme gets underway.

"We're really pleased we can now move forward without the need for any further legal proceedings, and we are putting all our efforts in to resolving the issue at hand. We are absolutely committed to working with Horizons to get to the bottom of what's happening in the river, determining what's causing any effects, and what options we have to improve the situation," said Mr Clifford.

"We proposed the Joint Work Programme which is outlined in the MOU to test the river's health in a number of ways, and provide much better information than we currently have to allow us to make informed decisions on what might need to be done differently."

Mr McCartney said the agreed programme increased the opportunity for the community's involvement in the process.
"Mediation through the court system is not an open process, the public would have been excluded from the hearings. Both Councils know the community wants this issue to be resolved in an open and transparent way and our agreed path forward allows for this. "

Mr McCartney said the agreement reached with the city council mirrored those Horizons had with other consent holders who were experiencing difficulties.
"Whether you are managing a sewage treatment plant for a city of thousands or running a farming operation, the unexpected can and does happen. But if a consent holder commits to working with us to overcome any issue then we're going to support that."