News, Events and Culture

Love Your River Water Education and Awareness Campaign

Tuesday February 26 2013

Palmerston North City Council is launching an education campaign aimed at improving the health of the city’s waterways.

Sustainable and economic development project coordinator William van Ausdal says the aim of the Love Your River campaign is to highlight the link between river health and water use.

"We want everyone to understand the link and take action to improve the health of our rivers and the wider environment."

William van Ausdal says 80% of nutrients enter water ways from agricultural, natural and urban runoff, however phosphorous from point sources (commercial, industrial and domestic use) are a significant source of the total load.

Research shows that up to 30% of phosphorous in domestic wastewater derives from domestic laundry products, dishwashing detergents and food scraps (DEFRA 2008).

William van Ausdal says there are a number of ways for wastewater treatment plants to remove phosphorous including chemical and biological treatments. However this is at considerable cost, something which Palmerston North City Council is experiencing at present.

"By shifting consumer habits towards phosphorous-free detergents and composting food scraps, we have the potential to reduce phosphorous loads to wastewater treatment plants, the load in the treated discharge and reduce operational costs.

The 'Love Your River' campaign includes:

Practical tips that promote the reduction of excess nutrients in storm and wastewater including:

  • Keeping food debris out of drains and composting instead.
  • Promoting the use of phosphate-free laundry and dishwashing products.
  • Washing cars on the lawn.
  • DIY Liquid Laundry Detergent Workshops, educational videos (shown at Downtown Cinemas)
  • Reusable billboard signage
  • Messaging delivered directly from retailers on supermarket aisles

William van Ausdal says the project is borne out of the Council's Sustainable City Strategy which identifies the health and extent of native biodiversity on land and in water as a priority for the city.

Research shows that urban New Zealand streams are amongst the most nutrient enriched waterways in the country. While other research shows that up to 30% of phosphorous in domestic wastewater derives from domestic laundry products, dishwashing detergents and food scraps.

"We know that the excessive supply of nutrients such as phosphorous and nitrogen is strongly linked to the growth of plants, algae, blooms of cyanobacteria, odour problems, and health issues.

William van Ausdal says the campaign is in no way intended to mitigate the investigation into the effects of the Totara Road Wastewater Treatment Plant discharge into the Manawatū River. "Instead, it is hoped it will support efforts to improve the condition of treated wastewater and thereby the health of our river."