Pe­ti­tion­ers want to scrap bot­tling plant

South Waikato News - - Backyard Banter - STUFF.CO.NZ

Waikato Re­gional Coun­cil is fac­ing fur­ther push-back on wa­ter ex­trac­tion fol­low­ing a pro­posal to take mil­lions of litres a day from the Wai­hou River.

In June, bot­tling com­pany New Zealand Pure Blue ap­plied for the rights to take 6.9 mil­lion litres of wa­ter per day from the Wai­hou River’s Blue Spring near Pu­taruru.

Waikato Re­gional Coun­cil is yet to make a de­ci­sion, which in­cludes plans for a bot­tling plant in the area.

NZ Pure Blue Springs said the Pu­taruru op­er­a­tion would be the ‘‘largest pro­duc­tion bot­tling plant in the south­ern hemi­sphere, ex­port­ing 100 per cent of its prod­ucts’’ and pro­vid­ing hun­dreds of full­time jobs to the lo­cal econ­omy.

A pe­ti­tion urg­ing the coun­cil to re­ject the pro­posal has re­ceived more than 40,000 sig­na­tures. If it reaches 50,000 it will be pre­sented to coun­cil.

This is the lat­est chap­ter in the de­bate on whether New Zealand’s wa­ter should be for sale. Bil­lions of litres of wa­ter are des­tined for ex­port and at no cost for the raw prod­uct, which has caused pub­lic back­lash in re­gions like Can­ter­bury, Hawke’s Bay and Waikato.

The com­pany ap­ply­ing to ex­tract wa­ter from the Wai­hou River, where Coca-cola Amatil al­ready takes up to 200,000 litres a day, was in the spot­light last year for a sim­i­lar ap­pli­ca­tion in the South Is­land.

In April, 2016, Ash­bur­ton District Coun­cil of­fered the rights to 40 bil­lion litres of pure, arte­sian wa­ter to New Zealand Pure Blue, which is owned by a group of Can­ter­bury lo­cals. The Ash­bur­ton deal was later shelved.

NZ Pure Blue said the wa­ter for the pro­posed bot­tling plant in Waikato would be taken from South Waikato District Coun­cil’s ex­ist­ing pipes but the com­pany in­tended to build its own in­fra­struc­ture pipe at the Blue Spring.

Con­sent was sought for 15 years and pro­duc­tion would start in Fe­bru­ary 2019. No date had been set on when a de­ci­sion will be made.

South Waikato District Coun­cil said it was sup­port­ive of the po­ten­tial eco­nomic stim­u­lus but the coun­cil would not com­ment fur­ther while the con­sent process was un­der­way.

Ac­cord­ing to the ap­pli­ca­tion, wa­ter flow from the Blue Springs equates to more than 60 mil­lion litres per day.

PETRICE TAR­RANT

Pu­taruru Blue Spring was one of the na­tion’s best kept se­crets ac­cord­ing to lo­cals who walk it fre­quently.

SUPPLIED

Coca-cola Amatil takes up to 200,000 litres a day from the Wai­hou River.

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