Another reason for water pricing

Written By: - Date published: 8:52 am, March 28th, 2017 - 19 comments
Categories: business, Conservation, Economy, Environment, exports, farming, farming, national, nick smith, Politics, trade, water - Tags:

How unfortunate for the Government. Another example has arisen which gives it plenty of reason to seriously consider water charging, at least for corporations who want to get it for free and then export it at huge profit.

From the Guardian:

A plan to extract millions of litres of water out of a Unesco world heritage site, send it by pipe to the coast and ship it to foreign markets for bottling has ignited a campaign over water resources in New Zealand.

An export company is proposing to collect 800m litres a month of the “untapped” glacial waters of Lake Greaney and Lake Minim Mere, mountainous dams that are fed by rainfall on the Southern Alps.

The pristine water, which the company Alpine Pure calls “untouched by man” would be pumped 20km downhill through an underground pipeline to a reservoir at Jackson Bay on the West Coast, where it would be processed.

From there, it would travel through a two-kilometre pipeline laid on the seafloor to a mooring, where 100,000-tonne tanker ships would be waiting to transport it in bulk to overseas markets in China, India and the Middle East.

The company already has permission to extract the water and is going through the process of getting resource consent from the Westland District Council for the pipeline.

Green groups are calling on the government to urgently step in and protect the nation’s freshwater springs and lakes, although Alpine Pure claims it is only taking a fraction of the water that falls as rain on the Southern Alps.

Alpine Blue’s Managing Director Bruce Nisbet is quoted as saying this:

“Pristine water has been falling on the Southern Alps for a million years, and it would usually be wasted by flowing directly out to sea. The amount we want to take is very small.”

The company’s justification matches that given by the Government, that it is only a little bit of water and to allow it to flow to the sea would mean that it was “wasted”.  Better to give it away to corporations for free.  After all donations may result.

There is intense local opposition to the current regime, particularly in the Hawkes Bay. Locals are rightfully incensed that at a time when they are required to burn water because of its poor quality pristine water is being exported overseas. The Bung the Bore organisation has organised a 15,000 petition and is particularly active.

As I have said before water is an issue that is going to haunt this government.  Of course our rivers should be swimmable, in the proper meaning of that word.  Cows and farmers should not be allowed to foul our water ways.  For this Government to spend our money on irrigating farm areas to the detriment of natural systems is astonishing.  And allowing corporations to export water essentially for free is a particularly insensitive not to mention uneconomic use of a vital natural resource.

19 comments on “Another reason for water pricing”

  1. grumpystilskin 1

    I’m an ex coaster, there’s been talk of this & other pipelines happening as long as I can remember. Every few years the Greymouth Star or community newspaper would have an article about it. Nothing has happened yet in the last 30 years of reading headlines..

    • Draco T Bastard 1.1

      Maybe the thing that makes it viable now is that wages in NZ have dropped enough over the last thirty years of neo-liberalism.

      • tc 1.1.1

        Its viable because they get it for effectively nothing and in such vast quantities any capex is recovered in a short timeframe.

        Mickey they’re not embarrassed at all. They will use this as further distractions from their wilful destruction of health, education, housing etc.

        Whilst they carry on with a snip here and a cut there before blinglush drops a pork barrel or 2 during the GE.

        • Sam C

          I’ll believe this crackpot scheme when I see it actually happen.

          It simply won’t go ahead.

  2. Yep water will hurt this government. No better time than now for the Labour and greens to GO HARD on this issue and put out definitive lines in the sand. NO WATER SALES no profiteering by a few off this common – seriously labour and greens DO IT cos it’s like we are all on a spaceship and we’ve got a fucken big leak and it will kill us if we don’t block that leak.

    • Jenny Kirk 2.1

      Labour has good policies on this water issue, marty mars.
      These include irrigators (farmers) paying for the water they use, no privatisation of water supplies, re-introduce a National Policy Statement to have freshwater management at real swimmable levels, strict guidelines for regional councils managing freshwater such as immediately putting in place fencing, adequate buffers around rivers and streams and planting them – not waiting for this to happen in 30 or 40 years time.
      Labour also wants to see less intensive farming practices, and paying a realistic price for irrigated water would help to see this happen.
      There is a lot to be done – but it requires a change of government for it to happen.

      • marty mars 2.1.1

        Selling water as per this post?

        • Bill

          Problem with this post (as I see it) is that it has taken some very disparate issues connected with water and heaved them under one umbrella.

          The farming stuff we can argue or debate until the cows come home…or likely agree on. And those arguments and issues are simply nothing like the ones associated with the Lake Greaney and Lake Minim Mere proposals (and others in a similar vein).

          Something discrete, really fucking important and really fucked up gets lost in this kind of ‘general’ water use approach. 🙁

          • marty mars

            Okay. I hope we all want clean water. This post in my understanding is what about those that sell it after getting it from the commons. Sure we can debate universal incomes to Syria to space programs to trump but what about this issue. I think THIS issue could kick the dirty gnats out. If it was front and centre and used as an example of everything that needs improvement from housing to poverty and so on. AND if the issue itself was resolved.

      • Fencing is a half-measure. Stock reductions will be necessary.

        Labour’s policies are in the right direction and a decent start, but they won’t solve the issue by any means. They have a right to criticise the government, but they also need to promise more, especially on drinking water.

  3. Barfly 3

    This is a comment by Glenn on Bill’s earlier “Down the gurgler” post

    “Tax it the same as “Fiji Water” otherwise tell them to eff off. In fact tax all of our water exports the same as Fiji. We are being taken for suckers.

    “an increase in the tax from one-third of a Fiji cent per liter to 15 cents per liter for producers over 15 million liters/month which at that point in time applied only to Fiji Water, led the company to shut down its Fiji Island offices on November 29, 2010. This raise was to raise Fiji Water’s tax contribution on to the Fiji Government on the F$150 million (AUD 82 million) they exported each year from F$500,000 to F$22.6 million.[17] The next step for the brand was thought to be a move to New Zealand.[18][19][20] However, after threats from the government to give the well to another company,[21] Fiji Water announced its intent to resume operations and accept the new tax levy.[22”]”

    I agree 100% with what Glenn said – while many here will argue for no bottle water extraction – 15 cents a litre on those already taking the water will provide a hell of a lot of revenue to do stuff that is damn well needed.

    Oh and if this project went ahead at 15 cents a litre that would be 1.2 Billion dollars per year for those need to have things that National has been hacking away at.

  4. Kevin 4

    “The amount we want to take is very small.”

    No problem. The tax per litre will also be very small.

    • Yeah, like it’s only a 50c levy per litre, what’s the big deal if you only want to take a little drinking water? Oh, you wanted 800 megalitres? Guess you owe us $400m before you can start pumping.

  5. Bill 5

    Prudent management of irrigation schemes? – tick.
    Robust legislation around fouling waterways? – tick
    Ensure rivers are swimmable? – tick

    Take a remote lake or two (photos provided in yesterday’s post) lay in a pile of infrastructure and then say “hey-ho” as long as a tax is being levied?


    800 000 000 litres…that’s getting towards 200l of drinking water for every person in NZ. Every. Single. Month. And that’s just from one scheme.

    I’m thinking 200l is more water than I drink in a month from all potable sources. (Water, coffee, tea, alcohol…) It’s not ‘a little. It’s not otherwise wasted. And it’s not on. (Or shouldn’t be for anyone who’s anything other than a two legged, no brained, rationally optimising profitus maximus sad arsed type of a belly rubbing the fucking ground creature)

    And as Weka asked yesterday, what’s the carbon footprint of this particular scheme? It’s not insubstantial.

    • Andre 5.1

      Or another way of looking at how much water this is: about 18 cubic metres per minute. The Blue Spring at Putaruru is 42 cubic metres per minute. Here’s a visual.

  6. Ad 6

    – who would benefit from it: region from where it was taken, or taxpayer generally?

    – what does iwi get out of it?

    – who regulates the price?

    – who regulates the take: regional council, local council, or state?

    – who enforces?

    – how is this grandfathered for those who have relied on it for generations?

    – will every domestic user also be metered? Why/why not?

    – do generators already pay through Electricity Commission?

    – should there be catchment differentials to allocation?

    – what exactly will this fix?

    – is pricing of this scale more worthy of a referendum than an election?

    – would answering the above be worth it?

    • Molly 6.1

      We have decision makers who can generate personal goodwill amongst the businesses by allowing them free access to common natural resources.

      This kind of political and personal goodwill comes with no personal cost, and as long as we keep electing representatives who look on their role in this way, we will continue see this happening.

    • gsays 6.2

      Hmm.. the power of no.

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