What is Nature Calls?

Photo shows ponds with flaxes with trees and hills in background.

Nature Calls is one of the largest projects Palmerston North City Council has undertaken, and the biggest environmental and financial decision for our city.

Every time you remove a sink plug, flush a toilet, turn off a tap, your dishwasher finishes a cycle or your washing machine beeps – that water goes to our Wastewater Treatment Plant at Tōtara Road, where it's treated before being discharged into the Manawatū River.

Managing water resources and the discharge of wastewater is the joint responsibility of Palmerston North City Council (as applicant) and Horizons Regional Council (as regulator). The mechanism that allows us to discharge our treated wastewater is the resource consent process under the Resource Management Act (RMA).

This project focuses on how we treat and discharge the wastewater we create, for the next 30 to 50 years

In Palmerston North, we do a pretty good job of managing our wastewater. We highly treat and discharge our wastewater to consistently meet conditions set in our resource consent. However we need to apply for new consents by mid-2022 as part of a process to continually review and improve our environment.

Since we got our last consent back in 2006, laws and standards have changed, along with many people's views about the environment. This means that our current treatment method isn't sufficient to meet future requirements, given our growth and higher standards.

The RMA process requires an option that appropriately avoids or mitigates adverse effects on the environment and meets the purpose and principles of the RMA (Part 2). To meet these requirements we will investigate – and show proof of – our analysis of possible options and the potential effects on the natural, social, cultural and economic environments.

In 2021, Council selected its best practicable option.