Call for bottlers to pay for taking water
Millions of litres of water is being sucked out of the South Waikato and sold for massive profits but it’s looking like time to clip the ticket.
Calls are mounting to make the companies that are benefiting actually pay for the raw ingredient.
NZ First leader Winston Peters said water is common property and exporters need to pay for every drop that goes offshore.
‘‘No way should water be extracted here for such minimalist cost and be sold offshore for profit, out of the control of the New Zealand economy,’’ Peters said.
Seventy per cent of the country’s bottled water is sourced from Putaruru’s Blue Spring.
The South Waikato District council holds the resource consent and Kiwi Blue, Aqua Splash and NZ Quality Waters have permission to take council water.
Their daily combined average take is more than 259,000 litres. Council charges them $1.02 for every 1000 litres and $1.12 in excess of 200,000 litres.
The price at the supermarket is about $2.60 per litre.
But forcing bottled-water companies to pay for the raw product would affect all businesses that turn the tap to run a profit,
‘‘No one owns water so you can’t charge for it,’’ said South Waikato District Council chief executive Craig Hobbs.
But because bottlers in his district take from the council water network to Putaruru, sourced from the Blue Spring, an infrastructure fee was payable.
Cafes, hairdressers and hotels are all in the same boat, Hobbs said.
Decisions on who gets water and how much are based on things like jobs and GDP growth.
Water-bottling has provided about 70 direct jobs in Putaruru, something not to be sneezed at in a town with a declining population, he said.
‘‘Where do you draw the line?’’ Hobbs said. ‘‘One of our biggest users in the district is a concreting plant. They use a huge amount of water.
‘‘The poor old water bottlers. If you thought about it, they are in a great position ... but the reality is, they are commercialising water the same way as other users are.
‘‘You’ve got to be consistent.’’