Chch wa­ter ready for China sale

The Press - - News - Do­minic Har­ris do­minic.har­ris@stuff.co.nz

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.

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