Council’s resource consent to discharge treated wastewater from the treatment plant into the Manawatū River is due to expire in 2028. As part of the new consent process, we need to complete a review of our wastewater treatment and disposal options by June 2021. We then need to lodge a new consent application by June 2022.

We know the upgrade must be done but the costs are unknown until we have some specific options on the table. With constantly evolving technology in this area, there's a wide range of potential options to consider.

We'll have detailed conversations with you about specific options and their respective costs and benefits to help decide on the preferred solution. This further detail will be considered for the next 10 Year Plan in three years. Ultimately, Council will need to balance regulatory compliance requirements with community expectations and our ability to pay for this project.

In the meantime, we need to make a number of budget assumptions so that we can finalise the current 10 Year Plan. These include:

  • $5.2m between 2018 and 2024 to complete the options analysis and obtain the consent (programme number 1319).
  • $128.8m ($110m without inflation) between 2023 and 2027 (programme number 628) to undertake the capital upgrades. This is based on significantly improving the treatment of wastewater (to current state-of-the-art level) and continuing to discharge the treated water into the river.

We've used this option for the purpose of including a budget provision at a time when we do not know what other options might cost. It does not signal that this is the preferred option, as the preferred option will be determined in consultation with the community. These options include land or ocean disposal and could cost up to $250m-$300m.

We have tested what the impact on debt and rates would be if the project cost a lot more than assumed (say $100m more or a total cost of $240m including inflation). See this in the graphs for debt to revenue ratio and proposed rates increases.

Assuming no other changes were made to compensate for this then the Council’s debt would be forecast to be $449m as at 30 June 2028. The Council’s debt to revenue ratio would rise to a maximum of 255% (compared with the proposed assumption of 205%).

Rates increases beyond 2023 would be higher than currently assumed. If the debt to revenue ratio was to exceed 250% the Council would be faced with significant issues raising debt from lenders.

We believe that the $128.8m figure is the most appropriate figure to budget for at this stage. As the various options for this project are developed and costed – in consultation with you – they will be built into our budgets. This could lead to us reconsidering our debt and rates policy limits and our priorities for other projects. We will consult with you about this on an ongoing basis.


Our 10 Year Plan consultation process has now closed. Thanks to everyone who has provided us with feedback on our projects and the options we laid out for them.

We will be finalising the 10 Year Plan based on this feedback in June and will confirm the option chosen once this is complete.

23 April, 2018

Brian T says:

“I prefer land based treated water disposal system, west of city. Should be considered even if costing up to 30% more. Very important issue.”

23 April, 2018

Guy says:

“Options need to have a very long term view. Regulatory requirements are only likely to tighten. Invest for the future.”

22 April, 2018

chris says:

“Water management is a real important issue both disposal and source of fresh. Water will be the game changer for cities in the future ”

19 April, 2018

Anne says:

“This is the most important project for the city in the next 10 years. City needs to do right thing about it's waste.”

12 April, 2018

DH says:

“This is priority over widening footpaths & upgrading museums - reallocate expenditure from proposed 10yr plan to lower debt to revenue ratio”

4 April, 2018

Darryl says:

“Why focus on "upgrades" to things that give nothing back instead of real upgrades which are essential?! This is essential! Get to it!”

20 March, 2018

Grant says:

“Cleaning up our environment and rivers are priorities. The investigation and scoping needs to continue. Delay = higher costs.”

19 March, 2018

Rachel says:

“Concentrate on scoping, determing costs & rate rises before committing to any 'nice to have' projects. It will hold up the vision- but do it”

19 March, 2018

chris says:

“This is the only project worth exploring. Why you are delaying it is beyond me. Look to Wanganui for where it went wrong ”