The Whanganui District Council will meet in extraordinary session this afternoon to decide whether to start construction on its new wastewater treatment plant.It comes a day after council chief executive Kym Fell reported to councillors that discussions for a separate treatment scheme for the city's wet industries had failed.
The council had approved the $42 million plant - to replace the original Airport Rd plant - in March this year. This afternoon's meeting will confirm whether construction will now begin.
"If the council reconfirms its previous decision tomorrow, the new plant will be in operation by December 2018, ending the discharge of untreated waste directly into the sea and finally putting behind us the difficulties forced on the community by the failed wastewater," Mr Fell said.
"The design will meet the expectations of council and the community of being affordable, sustainable and reliable and will serve the current and future needs of the city for both residents and trade users alike.
"While further details need to be worked through, if reconfirmed, work on the new plant will commence shortly."
Mr Fell said discussions initiated by major trade waste users - which included Affco, Land Meats and Open Country Dairy - for a separate treatment scheme "had not borne fruit, despite council demonstrating significant flexibility in negotiations".
Late last month the Chronicle reported it was looking increasingly likely that the new plant will proceed without the waste of its biggest user.
The Talley group of companies, which produce in excess of 60 per cent of the treatment plant load, were "actively pursuing" exiting the council scheme and building their own plant.
If that had happened it would likely mean a revision of the design of the new plant and a less expensive option built. However, while the cost of the new plant would reduce, it would also have to do without the trade waste fees paid by those companies, which one projection had at $4.5 million a year.
What isn't known at this stage is if the wet industries have decided they will not discharge into the city's system.
Today's meeting, staring at 4pm, will be open to the public.