Saturday, April 9, 2016

Selling Off Canterbury Water

The news leaked out earlier this week: a council in the middle of the drought-prone Canterbury plains is selling the right to extract 40 billion litres of pure artesian water to a bottled water supplier.
Am I missing something?
Ashburton District Council is selling off a section (called Lot 9) with a valuable resource consent, that allows the taking of water from aquifers beneath the town.
Not at all surprisingly, the council is staying mum on the deal (understood to be with an overseas company interested in setting up a water-bottling plant), and won't say how much dosh it'll be making. But you can bet, if it's prepared to face public wrath over such an horrendous deal, it'll be pocketing a pretty penny!
The buyer will be able to to take 45L of water a second from local aquifers, totalling more than 1.4 billion litres a year!
With the consent valid until 2046, the buyer will be able to suck out 40 billion+ litres of Ashburton's water.
The Ashburton groundwater zone is over-allocated, meaning water allocated to consent holders exceeds the amount available for use.
The area's heavy crop cultivation means demand for existing water is heavy. The district often has issues supplying water during summer. In some areas, residents are banned from using hoses to water their gardens.
But wait! Back in 2011, when applying for the consent, the council struck a deal with meat processor Silver Fern Farms, allowing it to deepen its bore if Lot 9's water take caused groundwater levels to reduce. Yeup, so New Player can heavily impact existing water table to the tune of 40 billion+ litres. Then Existing Player can suck off even MORE water, if New Player effects it too much!
Oh, and BTW, there's been no public consultation about the deal. Surprise-surprise! And yet this under-cover sale is expected to be finalised in June!
This whole deal smells despicable, and surely needs to be paused for due process!! And quite frankly, does the world need yet ANOTHER bottled water label???!

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