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What is wastewater?

Water is our most precious resource – we can’t make more. To the average person, water is water. But we break it down into three areas: drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater.

Drinking water is the water that comes into your tap. Drinking water in Palmerston North comes from a combination of the Turitea Dam and a series of bores around the city. It is treated before it gets to your home to ensure you don’t get sick.

Find out how we get water to your home.

Wastewater is everything that goes down a drain inside your home or business. From your kitchen, to your laundry, to your bathroom – if it goes down a plug or drain inside, then that is wastewater.

The third type of water is stormwater. That’s the water that goes down a drain outside your home or on the street. This water goes straight to our streams and rivers, and that’s why it is so important to not put anything down outside drains.

Find out about how our stormwater system is working to prevent flooding.

This project, Nature Calls, focuses only on wastewater – the water from inside your home

The average person in Palmerston North creates about 210 litres of wastewater each day.

Ninety-nine per cent of what comes into our wastewater plant is water. The remaining one per cent is made up of food scraps, oil and fat, poos, urine and toilet paper and the soap or detergent from your sink, shower, washing machine or dishwasher. It also contains things that shouldn’t be going down your drain – like condoms, tampons and wetwipes, The only things that should ever go down your toilet are the three Ps – pee, poo and (toilet) paper.

This is where wastewater is generated in your home

Photo shows infographics and statistics of where wastewater is generated in your home: 1.7% each bath and dishwasher, 3.2% leaks, 14.6% tap, 20.4% toilet, 26.1% washing machine, 32.3% shower.

Here are some easy things you can do today, without any special gadgets, to reduce wastewater at your whare

  • You can save 6L of water by turning off the tap while you brush your teeth.
  • You’ll save up to 90L of water by reducing your 10=minute shower to five minutes.
  • Only put your washing on when you have a full load.
  • Use the half flush on your toilet if it’s only urine.
  • Fix a leaking tap – this can save 15L a day.
  • Consider switching to a low flow shower head. This could save up to 6L a minute and cut the cost of your hot water bill.
  • Wash your veges in a sink of water rather than leaving the tap running.
  • If you only have a few dishes, wash them by hand rather than using a dishwasher.

At Council we’re also looking at new ways to manage, move and treat our wastewater. We’ve taken some steps already – for example, the new Pressure Sewer Policy. This allows for pressure sewer systems to be installed in areas that would be difficult to service with a conventional gravity sewer system, and for those areas to be connected to the sewer reticulation.

In addition to Nature Calls, we also have a number of waste minimisation programmes, and are working to improve understanding about how to reduce waste. This will help reduce the volume of wastewater in the city.