Chch water ready for China sale
A Christchurch water bottling operation has begun shipping hundreds of thousands of litres of water to China ready for sale.
Cloud Ocean Water, which is building a $50 million factory in Belfast, last month exported its first shipment of 600,000 litres, equivalent to a day’s production.
Sources told campaign group Aotearoa Water Action (AWA) the water left the plant on September 10 bound for Shandong in eastern China, with a goal of producing 2.4m bottles a week.
Workers at the Belfast site have been loading boxes of water onto large shipping containers in recent days, a process residents living near the site told The Press has been going on for a number of weeks.
A spokeswoman for the Chinaowned company said the shipment was a single batch produced while the plant’s bottling lines were being tested, and is expected to go on sale in the coming weeks.
More will be exported as the plant moves towards full production.
It is not yet known how much individual 500ml bottles will be sold for, with the firm saying pricing would be determined by distributors.
Each bottle will have to carry a special disclaimer sticker because of errors in the Chinamade packaging, first highlighted by The Press last year.
Boxes claim Cloud Ocean Estate natural spring water is from a 200m deep underground aquifer at ‘‘renowned Caterbury’’, but the company does not yet have permission to take water from its 170m bore.
The packaging was printed on the basis the plant would be at full production and drawing water from a 200m bore by the time it was first sold, the spokeswoman said.
The current labels are being used while the firm awaits new ones.
‘‘This water is not yet in the market and has not been sold. Cloud Ocean has issued a statement to its distributors explaining the reference to 200m and providing a context re the consent process.
‘‘Cloud Ocean is aware of its obligations to disclose correct information to its customers.’’
The company has permission to take 1.57 billion litres of water a year and is currently using a 33m bore at its Station Rd plant. It is in the process of applying to Environment Canterbury (ECan) to use a second bore, 170m deep, though doing so would not allow it to take any extra water.
It also has the option to request activation of a separate resource consent that would allow it to take a further 200 million litres of water a year through a third bore, on the site of the nearby Rapaki Natural Resources.
The plant is still in the commissioning stage and is expected to be fully up and running by the end of the year, employing around 200 workers.
Cloud Ocean Water is currently embroiled in a court case brought by AWA against it, ECan and Rapaki Natural Resources over whether the companies should be allowed to rely on historic consents – granted around 20 years ago for industrial uses – as being sufficient to allow for water bottling.