Fight to charge water bottlers heats up

Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith says maybe.
BRADEN FASTIER/FAIRFAX NZ

Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith says maybe.

Parties across the political spectrum agree bottling companies should pay for the water they take but the Government is sitting on the fence.

With less than 90 days remaining before polling day, it looks as if water pricing could blow up as a key election issue.

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

NZ Pure Blue want to draw 6.9m litres per day from the Blue Spring near Putaruru.
FAIRFAX NZ

NZ Pure Blue want to draw 6.9m litres per day from the Blue Spring near Putaruru.

It's the latest chapter infuriating people around the country where billions of litres of water are destined for export and at no cost for the raw product.

READ MORE:
Petition seeking ban on NZ water exports rejected by Environment Minister Nick Smith
From national park to overseas: Plan to export billions of litres of West Coast water
Hawke's Bay water bottling plant lies dormant for four months
Mike Yardley: Who benefits from bottling New Zealand's pristine water?
For sale: 40 billion litres of Canterbury's purest water

Water New Zealand chief executive John Pfahlert called for a national discussion on a water pricing regime

Green Part co-leader James Shaw said a difficult conversation must happen.
FAIRFAX NZ

Green Part co-leader James Shaw said a difficult conversation must happen.

"The time for taking our water for granted is now over," Pfahlert said. "New Zealand needs a plan and it needs it now."

The group is a wide ranging industry body covering all facets of water management, distribution and commercial operators.

The issue gained heat in April, 2016, when Ashburton District Council offered the rights to 40 billion litres of pure, artesian water to New Zealand Pure Blue Limited, the same company involved in the Putaruru application. The Ashburton deal was later shelved.

Labour party spokesman for water David Parker said the public should get a return for commercial water use.
JOHN HAWKINS/FAIRFAX NZ

Labour party spokesman for water David Parker said the public should get a return for commercial water use.

In the same month, Oravida was granted the right to draw up to 146 million litres a year, until 2026, from the Otakiri Aquifer in Bay of Plenty.

Ad Feedback

NZ Pure Blue Springs said the Putaruru operation, the latest in a string of water grabs, will be the "largest production bottling plant in the southern hemisphere, exporting 100 percent of its products" and providing 200 fulltime jobs to the local economy.

Pfahlert said the public is becoming increasingly agitated and the Government needs to act.

United Future leader Peter Dunne is calling for royalties to be paid.
TOM LEE/FAIRFAX NZ

United Future leader Peter Dunne is calling for royalties to be paid.

"It's an uncomfortable position for the Government to have to think about. They're right, it's complicated and difficult but it doesn't mean they shouldn't start down the route although I don't expect them to do so prior to an election."

Environment Minister Nick Smith said the Government is open to charging as long as it's a fair system. He expects a report by the end of the year from a government technical advisory group looking into water allocation and pricing.

"It would not make sense to charge water bottlers but not an adjacent soft drink or beer company," Smith said.

The Opportunities Party candidate for Wellington Geoff Simmons said income derived from royalties can be used to clean ...
CHRIS SKELTON/FAIRFAX NZ

The Opportunities Party candidate for Wellington Geoff Simmons said income derived from royalties can be used to clean up waterways.

Local iwi, Raukawa, have been consulted over the NZ Pure Blue application but Raukawa Settlement Trust chair Vanessa Eparaima said all the information will need to be considered before taking a position.

"Our priority will always be on ensuring the protection of the health and well-being of the environment and in this instance Te Puna (the spring)," Eparaima said. "The issue of water extraction is a significant one for not only Raukawa but all in the communities we share."

Green Party co-leader James Shaw was in Waikato on Tuesday. He visited Putaruru and the Waihou River and said companies should pay a resource rental for the water they take.

NZ First leader Winston Peters wants 25 percent of royalties going to the regions.
WARWICK SMITH/FAIRFAX NZ

NZ First leader Winston Peters wants 25 percent of royalties going to the regions.

"The Government has consistently refused to engage on the question of ownership of water and it is very difficult to have a pricing regime when you don't deal with the ownership question," Shaw said.

Bottled water is a fraction of what is taken for irrigation, town supply and industry use.

The country's freshwater resource is 500 trillion litres with 50 trillion litres extracted. Bottled water exports amount to 9 million litres.

ACT leader David Seymour believes all water rights should be tradeable.
KEVIN STENT/STUFF

ACT leader David Seymour believes all water rights should be tradeable.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has already called for water exporters to pay a royalty to the Crown with 25 percent of that royalty returned to the region where the water was taken.

"We tabled an amendment in Parliament to the Crown Minerals Act for royalties to be charged on water takes but National opposed it," Peters said.

Labour Party spokesman for water David Parker and United Future leader Hon Peter Dunne both want commercial users to pay.

Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell says a fair rate should be applied.

Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell says a fair rate should be applied.

"We say that when a community resource such as this is being used for commercial profit, it is fair that the public gets a return on it by way of a royalty as we do for oil, gas, coal, and even gravel," Parker said.

Dunne outlined his position in a May edition of his weekly blog which he provided.

"It seems somewhat incongruous that a virtually unregulated and certainly untaxed water export industry is being allowed to develop," Dunne said. "At the very least, there needs to be a coherent royalties regime put in place, akin perhaps to that for oil and gas, to ensure that our water resources are not being just given away."

Water for NZ Pure Blue's bottling plant will be taken from South Waikato District Council's existing pipes but the company intends to build its own infrastructure pipe at the Blue Spring.

Consent is sought for 15 years and, if successful, production would start in February 2019. No date has been set on when a decision will be made.

South Waikato District Council are supportive of potential economic stimulus NZ Pure Blue may provide, but are not willing to comment while the consent process is underway.

According to the application, water flow from the Blue Springs equates to more than 60 million litres per day or 22 billion litres a year.

*Political parties polled for their position on charging for water bottling.

Labour Party spokesman for water David Parker 

"All domestic and municipal users of water would be exempt from the royalty, as would stock water users. Royalty revenue would be shared with local councils and iwi.

United Future leader Hon Peter Dunne

"At the very least, there needs to be a coherent royalties regime put in place, akin perhaps to that for oil and gas, to ensure that our water resources are not being just given away."

The Opportunities Party deputy leader Geoff Simmons

"Commercial water users should pay to use a precious and scarce public resource, just like they pay for any other business input."

Green Party co-leader James Shaw

"We should be placing a price on that to encourage efficiency in order to send a signal that it has value."

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters

"We say as a country we own the water and we've got a right, like coal or anything else we're exporting or extracting, to put a royalty on it. For well over a hundred years we've believed as a country that we own the water, in the same way as we own in common the air and the environment which we're in."

Minister for the Environment Nick Smith

"The Government is open to charging water bottling companies but not in isolation from other commercial users."

ACT Party leader David Seymour

"ACT believes that all water rights should be tradeable. This means both foreign and local companies (and not just bottlers) would pay to use water."

Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell

"Current water allocation arrangements which effectively allow water to be used to generate a profit is a form of ownership despite the Government saying that no one owns the water."

 - Stuff

Comments

Ad Feedback
special offers
Auckland

5 of Auckland's best winter eats

Sean Connolly cooking at his Italian restaurant "Gusto".

Winter menus are a delight, as the season draws to a close make sure you indulge in the best on offer.

'The boy couldn't breathe' video

Video showed men masked and dressed in Mr Four Square costumes apparently attacking two teens on a train from Britomart ...

Two teens were on their way home for dinner when they were punched and kicked by a group of men dressed as Mr Four Square.

Big win for Blenheim

A million-dollar winner, but Powerball not struck.

Blenheim Lotto player strikes it lucky with $1m win.

Police investigate gay hate pastor

A police spokesman said "police are aware of [Robertson's remarks], and are taking it seriously".

Logan Robertson says gay couples marrying deserved a bullet in the head. Police say they're taking it seriously.

Wellington

Rental WoFs for capital

Wellington Mayor Justin Lester says the council wants to "lift rental standards and make better accommodation available ...

Wellington becomes first to introduce voluntary warrant of fitness for rental properties.

Hutt hostage situation

Emergency services at the cordon on Kings Crescent, near High St, Lower Hutt.

Police confirm hostage standoff at a cordoned off Lower Hutt house.

Torrential rain, gales

MetService has warned northerlies could get to 130kmh in exposed areas of Wellington, Marlborough and the Canterbury ...

Gales hit central NZ while heavy rain is falling across parts of the South Island - and there's more to come.

Brothel building for sale

Il-Bordello is on Vivian St.

"More bang for your buck" for this brothel building.

Canterbury

Wooden stadium for Chch?

NZ First party leader Winston Peters wants Christchurch's new stadium to be built out of wood.

Winston Peters wants the Government to make a major injection into stadium - but only if it's built from wood.

'Pushed to the edge' video

Hennie Murray and his friends narrowly missing being hit by an avalanche while driving along the Mt Hutt access road on ...

Hennie Murray was among the thousands leaving Mt Hutt skifield when "everything turned white".

Free parking in Christchurch?

An artist's impression of the Lichfield St car parking building, due for completion in October.

Idea to offer free parking at new parking building may be put before councillors for a vote.

Chilly weekend ahead

July snow just east of Lake Tekapo

Winter has more in store for Canterbury before the expected milder spring weather arrives.

Waikato

Mum dies in Cook Islands

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade is aware of the death of a New Zealander in the Cook Islands.

Much-loved Waikato wife and mother Michelle Robertson died in Rarotonga, aged 37.

Nationwide hunt for gunman video

Police are looking to locate Rollie James Heke, 36. He is believed to be armed and dangerous and should not be approached.

The search for "unpredictable" Rollie James Heke has been elevated to a national level.

Ghost school to be bulldozed

The Ministry of Education says some of the buildings had asbestos.

Buildings at the Hamilton school have sat vacant for 13 years.

Iwi stalls bottling

An application to take 6.9m litres per day from the Blue Spring near Putaruru is on hold.

Raukawa's concerns put an application to bottle billions of litres from Putaruru's Blue Springs for export on hold.

Taranaki

Kiwi rose living the dream

New Zealand and Taranaki Rose of Tralee Niamh O'Sullivan said the Rose of Tralee festival has been a surreal experience.

New Zealand's Rose of Tralee Niamh O'Sullivan is taking on the world in Ireland.

Arts Festival begins

The Taranaki Arts Festival Trust's Cleo Wood and Suzanne Porter have been busy working on the Festival's final touches.

It really does sound like one of the best jobs...where we do we sign up?

Kids hailed for rescue video

Sarah and Charlie Strand and Frikkie du Preez from Hawera Intermediate School are being hailed as heroes.

Their own racing hearts didn't stop three intermediate students from helping an elderly woman in distress.

A very sick winter

Admissions to hospital for influenza hit a record high at Taranaki Base Hospital in July.

Getting sick in Taranaki has never been easier thanks to this year's influenza strain.

Manawatu

Weaving cultural ties

Tanemahuta Gray in his Feilding home.

Tanemahuta Gray is a choreographer and director who now calls Feilding home.

The political outsider

Adrienne Pierce is aiming to take Palmerston North for National at the election.

A newbie to the Manawatu political scene has an uphill battle to turn Palmerston North blue for National.

Free ink draws crowds video

Jamee Mitchell's new tattoo.

An offer of free tattoos drew a line of keen punters staunchly queuing in winter downpours.

Sudden death shocks

Ambulance staff alerted police to the woman's death on Wednesday morning.

Police are investigating the unexplained death of a woman at a Palmerston North flat.

Nelson

Kids benefit from bike build

Skyla Ruebe, 8 of Motueka with the new bicycle she received from Night & Day franchisees and support staff during a ...

Nine kids from the Nelson region given new bikes.

From cage to stage video

Meg Cole, her daughter Ella Dols and their SPCA rescue cat Gypsy, who won numerous prizes at the Nelson Cat Show.

An SPCA "ball of fluff" rescue kitten ended up winning best in show at the Nelson Cat Show.

Tasman teams light up the stage

Teen Theatre team Knock Your Socks Off, who competed in the Tasman Regional Theatresports competition this month against ...

Talented Tasman teens have taken top honours in regional theatresports championships.

Ankle defence fails

Nelson Police "inadvertently" kept a man with a fractured ankle at the station, instead of getting him medical attention.

A man who claimed police broke his ankle has failed to get his conviction overturned.

Marlborough

Shocked, less than shocked

Jeff Hynes found this pile of rubbish dumped near the Grovetown Lagoon on Friday.

Two very different responses as illegal dumping cases pile up in Marlborough.

Big win for Blenheim

A million-dollar winner, but Powerball not struck.

Blenheim Lotto player strikes it lucky with $1m win.

NZ cyclocross titles at stake

The national cyclocross championships will be held near Blenheim on Saturday. Marlborough riders Antony Clark, left, and ...

 The New Zealand cyclocross championships will be staged in Marlborough for the first time on Saturday.

Teen killed in bridge crash

Marlborough 19-year-old George Holland died in a crash in Wairau Valley.

Man killed in crash between a truck and a ute in Wairau Valley was 19-year-old George Holland.

South Canterbury

Walking for hope

Timaru woman Michelle Cogger has organised a hope walk to raise awareness of suicide prevention.

Timaru mother organises community Hope Walk to create awareness around suicide.

Hospital rebuild plan

South Canterbury District Health Board chief executive Nigel Trainor said it had decided to shift a planned ...

Proposal to redevelop Timaru Hospital moves up a gear with plans afoot to rebuild.

FastPost ... anything but

Veronica Fellows wants to know why it took six days for a birthday card she posted to her to her grandson to arrive.

Timaru woman Veronica Fellows questions why a birthday card took six days to travel 4km by post.

Clamping down on free-for-all

The building on Sophia St was inspected in March this year and found to be unsafe in the event of an earthquake. The ...

Council says people must stop snapping up reserved parks in earthquake-prone building.

Southland

'Chaotic' DHB department

The entrance to Dunedin Hospital.

Some patients have waited up to three years for a follow-up appointment due to dysfunction within a DHB department.

Cow neglect 'appalling'

Castlerock Dairies Limited and the managers who ran two farms were fined $60,000 in total in the Invercargill District ...

At least 193 cows on a Lumsden farm had to be euthanised in "one of the worst examples of long-term neglect".

Film festival growing in Gore

Theatre manager Peter Cairns at Gore's St James Theatre ahead of them hosting the New Zealand International Film ...

The Gore leg of the New Zealand International Film Festival is proving popular with Southland film buffs.

Missing runner found

A runner was missing for three-and-a-half hours in Southland before being tracked down by a search and rescue team on ...

A missing runner was found cold, but safe, after becoming lost with no cellphone battery.

Ad Feedback