A Foxton Beach woman reckons there is money to be made from ... sewage.
Christina Paton is urging Palmerston North City Council to consider discharging its sewage to land rather than continued discharge into the Manawatū River from an outlet just upstream of Foxton and Foxton Beach.
Paton believed wastewater had a commercial application that was being overlooked.
"Don't call it wastewater. It is an asset. It is a nutrient," she said.
"There is a market. It is a commercial opportunity. There is money to be made from flushing the toilet."
Paton had long been an advocate for land-based sewage disposal and said it required a change of thinking.
While sewage was known by many names, she said it should be looked on in a different light. There would be ongoing returns through forestry development on the land, and those trees soaked up heavy metals from wastewater.
Wastewater discharged to land wouldn't have to be treated to the same level required to meet river discharge standards either, she said, and could turn out to be the most cost effective option long-term.
Where costly treatment removing nitrogen and phosphorous from wastewater was needed before it went to the river, those same elements were beneficial for growing trees.
Horowhenua communities all spread their treated wastewater to land with the exception of Tokomaru, although it was expected to soon follow suit.
Paton said Palmerston North had to do the same, as the Palmerston North City Council had until June 2022 to apply for a new resource consent and was considering options that included continued river discharge.
Time flies. Paton and her late husband George were loudly opposed to continued river discharge in 1999 when Palmerston North City Council last applied for resource consent.
She said the only thing that had changed in that time was the river quality had significantly declined, and the price of land required for a land-based disposal option had skyrocketed.
"The river is in a far worse state now. You wouldn't eat anything out of it," she said.
Paton said it would have cost a fraction to change to land-based disposal 21 years ago to what it might costs today.
But focusing on the price of land was missing the point, she said. There was an opportunity to market the river as a tourist destination.
Central government had to become involved through its freshwater improvement strategy too, she said.
A public meeting would be held at Te Awahou Nieuwe Stroom on Monday, June 29, from 5.30pm as the city council sought to gauge public opinion.