Pure wa­ter, murky de­bate

South Waikato News - - Your Paper, Your Place -

We are lucky in New Zealand that we have some of the most pris­tine wa­ter­ways in the world.

A side-ef­fect of our amaz­ing en­vi­ron­ment is that peo­ple lit­er­ally want to bot­tle it.

The is­sue of wa­ter-bot­tling is con­tentious and some­times emo­tional.

Whether to make wa­ter­bot­tling com­pa­nies pay roy­al­ties for this free, plen­ti­ful and easy to ob­tain re­source is a tricky is­sue to nav­i­gate. Let’s look at the facts. NZ Pure Blue has made a sub­mis­sion to Waikato Re­gional Coun­cil to take up to 6.9 mil­lion litres of fresh wa­ter from Pu­taruru’s fa­mous Blue Spring in Wai­hou River. Coca-cola Amatil, the largest con­sent-holder of wa­ter from the river, takes up to 200,000 litres a day.

This plan has po­ten­tial to earn mil­lions of dol­lars for NZ Pure Blue, which will ex­port ev­ery drop it takes from this spring.

While it may seem un­fair that the com­pany will make a profit from some­thing that be­longs to all of us, and is free in its nat­u­ral form, con­sider this. NZ Pure Blue says it will cre­ate the largest wa­ter-bot­tling plant in the south­ern hemi­sphere in Pu­taruru.

One of its key ob­jec­tives, the com­pany says, is to re­vi­talise the town by in­creas­ing over­all so­cial and eco­nomic ben­e­fits to the com­mu­nity. This has to be a con­sid­er­a­tion. A Berl re­port with the sub­mis­sion es­ti­mates con­struc­tion will de­liver jobs and rev­enue to the com­mu­nity and once up and run­ning, the plant could em­ploy close to 200 em­ploy­ees.

This num­ber jumps to some­where be­tween 483 and 566 jobs once the wider flow-on ben­e­fits are con­sid­ered – 6-7 per cent of em­ploy­ment in South Waikato. The Berl re­port also sug­gests be­tween $25-31 mil­lion in GDP could re­sult from a bot­tling plant in full pro­duc­tion.

As the lo­cal MP, I want to en­sure op­por­tu­ni­ties to grow our towns and dis­trict are con­sid­ered from all an­gles in terms of de­ci­sion-mak­ing by Waikato Re­gional Coun­cil.

In ad­di­tion, the Gov­ern­ment is look­ing at the is­sue of charg­ing for wa­ter taken for bot­tled wa­ter, but not in iso­la­tion from other uses. It is also con­sid­er­ing whether it should give greater di­rec­tion on al­lo­ca­tion. A tech­ni­cal ad­vi­sory group is due to re­port back on re­form op­tions in De­cem­ber.

In the mean­time, de­bate will con­tinue on the is­sue. We all need fresh wa­ter, and it is some­thing NZ has an abun­dance of. We also want op­por­tu­ni­ties for the peo­ple in our dis­trict.

Email Up­ston.sth­waikato@par­lia­ment.govt.nz

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