Petitioners want to scrap bottling plant
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.
Putaruru Blue Spring was one of the nation’s best kept secrets according to locals who walk it frequently.
Coca-cola Amatil takes up to 200,000 litres a day from the Waihou River.