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Down the Gurgler.

Written By: - Date published: 4:18 pm, March 27th, 2017 - 69 comments
Categories: Abuse of power, capitalism, Economy, Environment, Politics, water - Tags: , ,

Eleanor Ainge Roy (Dunedin based writer)  has a piece in the Guardian referring yet another ‘rip shit and fuck you’ water scheme being prepared for NZ.

An export company is proposing to collect 800m litres a month of the “untapped” glacial waters of Lake Greaney (photo link) and Lake Minim Mere (photo link),  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.

A 20km pipeline and a 2 km pipeline, all the construction and ongoing maintenance with that, plus however many 100 000 tonne tankers every month, doesn’t quite stack up alongside notions of ‘pristine’ to my mind. But hey, investors and such like are of a different persuasion…


“We’ve had a lot of interest in this proposal from overseas companies, and a couple of times we’ve started chilling the champagne,” said Bruce Nisbet, managing director.

“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.”

You get that? Water is ‘wasted’ if it ain’t in a plastic bottle on a supermarket shelf…800 million plastic bottles worth of it every month in this case.

And the Prime Minister? Well….


Prime minister Bill English has now announced the government would ask an expert water panel to investigate whether water destined for overseas exports should be charged, after mounting public pressure.

“We do accept there’s growing public concern about it, that’s why we want to refer it off to this group to look at what if any reasonable options there are,” he said.

You want to know what’s reasonable Bill? Leave. It. Alone. There you go. No need to line your mate’s pockets with ‘consultation’ fees.

69 comments on “Down the Gurgler. ”

  1. Greg 1

    Tory looting at its best not satisfied with stealing our power companies Tory scum are after the water as well this government has to go

  2. Barfly 2

    20 cents a litre tax – f all to the retail price but an insane amount of revenue

    after all if a litre of milk takes 400 liters of water 20 cents a litre for exporting water sounds like economic nirvana

    if they don’t / can’t pay bad luck leave it where it is

    oh 800 million litres a month = 160 million a month at that tax rate

    lets build some houses maybe…or food in schools or……

    • bwaghorn 2.1

      yep i could go with that , as long as locals aren’t drinking sheep shit water like in havelock north while the pure aquifer is being sold off.

      • RedBaronCV 2.1.1

        And the locals are seriously upset about it too. They have been on water restrictions for months in Hastings. With that plus the GM I can see Nact taking a tumble up there.

    • Bill 2.2

      Nah. Let’s not.

      The monetisation of “everything” has gone far enough…too far. Time to attach notions of worth to intrinsic value rather than scabby $ signs.

      • marty mars 2.2.1

        Yep + 1 Bill – commodification of water has to stop – it literally is killing us.

      • Woody 2.2.2

        This is a long bow but I was talking about monetisation the other day and noted that we had a PM who made his fortune in the monetisation of money I know that sounds nuts but money sole purpose is to oil commerce it’s not a commodity if people can monetise money then we are doomed

  3. Glenn 3

    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”]


  4. McFlock 4

    That’s up to 8 ships a month. just FYI.

    But the entire “if it ends up in the ocean it’s wasted” thing also pisses me off. If it ends up in the ocean it’s done its job of maintaining the waterway for migratory fish, local flora and fauna, and local residents to use.

    • Bill 4.1

      At least eight per month depending on what that 100 000 tonne figure’s referring to (net or gross tonnage) – guessing net.

    • NZJester 4.2

      I think the “if it ends up in the ocean it’s wasted” statement is a big lie also that covers up so much of what good it really does for this country as it flows to the ocean. We have no way of knowing either what damage to the environment might be done by the removal of all that water at the source. It may or may not affect the migratory fish, local flora and fauna, but as there is no study to say either way who can tell. We will not know if it is safe to take that much water unless a long-term study is done. You can bet if it is found to be doing damage once they start taking the water they will not put any of those profits back into this country to fix it. They will be away laughing with their pockets stuffed full of money leaving us to pay for any cleanup bill.

  5. NZJester 5

    A lot of places in New Zealand suffer drought and they want to ship a lot of the clean water out of the country and in this case not even offer New Zealand some trivial jobs of bottling and transporting of the water.
    That water is not going to waste as it flows down and nourishes the natural land around the rivers it feeds. Removing large amounts of that water could affect some of the downstream ecosystems. As we don’t have any data we can’t say for sure.
    The National Government is letting them rob New Zealand of a valuable resource.

  6. weka 6

    I’m pretty fucked off at the number of people who have jumped on the ‘if they’re going to take it they should pay for it’ wagon, including the Greens. In complete agreement we should just leave it the fuck alone. Te mana o te wai.

    On the other hand, clean green NZ should get in and use the glaciers while they’re still there, right? /perverse irony.

    Show me the carbon footprint.

    • Bill 6.1

      Carbon footprint…heh.

      Okay. Let’s start with the 22km of pipe. What’s the carbon embedded in its manufacture and transport?
      Then there’s the carbon involved with it’s installation.
      Eight tankers per month running on bunker fuel traversing the Pacific.
      800 000 000 plastic containers every month (assuming 1l bottles) – what’s the carbon cost of their manufacture and transport?
      The carbon involved in the distribution from port to warehouse to supermarket to home.
      The disposal of those 800 000 000 bottles every month
      Want to throw in all the flights to business meetings and sales meetings associated with the company?
      What about the carbon profligate lifestyle the $ from this would enable for those out to make that quick buck?
      And the flow on effects of that? (Because carbon profligacy demands carbon hungry services…restaurants, hotels, airports – maids, waiters,cleaners, maintenance workers, chefs and what not travelling to and from those places of work that might only exist because of high carbon users)
      all the other stuff I’ve doubtless missed.

      • weka 6.1.1

        And that’s not getting the rest of the ecological footprint. I remember a high profile breast cancer activist in the US years ago talking about being against water filters for households because what it meant was we said we can pollute our water and some people can take out the bad stuff before drinking, but the rest of us are going to still be drinking the toxins. There’s also the issue of what to do with the used filters, which generally go into landfills and often contaminate groundwater. If we get honest with ourselves and drink the water as it is we are more likely to act to preserve it.

        I pretty sure that bottled water is in the same kind of loop (plastics are endocrine disrupters, not just for humans but for many species that get exposed, especially via water, etc). Can’t bring myself to go look that up that the moment.

        That 800,000,000 bottles per month is pretty mind blowing. I just keep seeing the Pacific Gyre.

        This one is really doing my head in.

    • saveNZ 6.2

      Totally agree Weka.

      We should just leave it the fuck alone. Te mana o te wai.

      Fuck off user pays thinking.

      I don’t like this new neoliberal Green approach by the Greens – go back to environmentalism!

      Some things have intrinsic value. There is no price to put on pure water. It is priceless.

    • AsleepWhileWalking 6.3

      I dunno what’s happened to the Greens but they are sort of fading rapidly.

      Yeh, leave it alone.

      • gsays 6.3.1

        Aww, I think in matters such as this the greens would rather be called the aquas.

        I agree with bill and others, leave the water alone.

        Come to think of it, the Tory folk that come up with these ideas are wasted.
        They could be compost under a rhubarb plant, far better use of those nutrients.

      • Once etc 6.3.2

        I’ve noticed James with the corporate background seems to be fronting everything these days whereas MT (supposedly ‘co-leader) appears to be missing in action. Is this correct, and if so, is there a reason for it?

        • weka

          I don’t think so, I see MT doing plenty of things, as well as the other MPs.

          • Once etc.

            I agree @weka. MT is doing PLENTY of things as my email inbox attests, and as she always has.
            It just seems to me that whilst she is doing all the leg-work and stuff and things we’d expect from a green party, James is fronting the media and turning the party turquoise – in tune with his corporate background.
            And as far as those media blips go, MT is a far better image for the Greens than JS will ever be (despite that hideous green tie)
            In any event, unless MT starts fronting and we see less of Jesus Christ and more of MT, I’ll continue to ignore the inbox and consider other options cum election time (going forward)

            • weka

              I really don’t understand this. How do you think NZ will ever do the right things by the environment especially cc, if they don’t have good working relationships with the various business communities including the corporate world?

              You can write off Shaw because he’s a suit, but it’s really just a form of prejudice. He’s got Green credentials, maybe look them up some time.

              “In any event, unless MT starts fronting and we see less of Jesus Christ and more of MT, I’ll continue to ignore the inbox and consider other options cum election time (going forward)”

              That just makes me suspicious of your politics then. Because the Greens have the most left wing policies of any party in govt, and the most sound and progressive policies too. Vote Labour if you want (which is full of suits), and we can change the govt, but if you really want real change then the Greens having as many MPs as possible is critical.

              • Once etc.

                And I agree once again @Weka that the Greens have the most left wing policies etc etc etc.
                What worries me however is JS’s commitment to them.

                I worked in a corporate environment long enough to know just how much all that goes with it rubs off, and from what I’ve seen of JS – a fair amount – even if he wants to dress it up as pragmatism

                Suffice to say, Greens would probably get my party vote in a heartbeat if MT was solely at the helm.

                • Antoine

                  And probably mine if Shaw was sole leader.

                • weka

                  “I worked in a corporate environment long enough to know just how much all that goes with it rubs off, and from what I’ve seen of JS – a fair amount – even if he wants to dress it up as pragmatism”

                  Can you give some examples of what has rubbed off?

                  “Suffice to say, Greens would probably get my party vote in a heartbeat if MT was solely at the helm.”

                  Can I ask who you will vote for then?

  7. saveNZ 7

    Great post!!!

  8. Draco T Bastard 8

    You get that? Water is ‘wasted’ if it ain’t in a plastic bottle on a supermarket shelf…800 million plastic bottles worth of it every month in this case.

    Anything that doesn’t increase the income for rich people is wasted according to the Nats:- minerals, food, water, people.

    They don’t, and won’t, accept that that water is needed for the rivers that it flows into to keep life going.

  9. saveNZ 9

    Hypothetical conversation

    ACT – We need to charge for water, user pays is necessary.
    NAT – Steady on there ACT, our cronies want water for free, giving stuff away to industry is our only idea of running the economy. We have people literally FLOCKING here under our free to industry policies and are getting eye watering prices for bankrupted farms or small holdings.
    TMP- well we co-own the water and are hoping to transfer Maori land to a CEO structure so yes we’re in, anything to make a $ for whanau.
    LAB- yes you have a point there ACT and NAT – we have to think about industry.
    GREEN – well to appease the BLUE GREEN crowd we’ll think about user pays for water but we want rental rights in return.
    NAT – done! as long as we do the deal before the election and you can say it was your solution of user pays for water and rental rights.
    LAB-GREEN – no problem!

    MANA -WTF!!

  10. 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.

    Maybe someone should send this guy back to finish primary school, so he can learn about the water cycle.

  11. greywarshark 11

    By all means Bill – listen to Bill. LEAVE. IT. ALONE.

  12. Graeme 12

    I’d say the economics of this proposal are pretty marginal. The idea of shipping water around in tankers disappeared about the time desalination plants got really good. These produce water for about $0.50 / cubic metre. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desalination

    • Yes. It’s so cheap now that Kuwait doesn’t even charge for water, and almost all its water comes from desalination. I’d see maids out hosing down the driveway with this water that oil had been burned to produce. And of course, most ex-pats wouldn’t drink it – used to drive me nuts, they’d all be down the supermarket buying cases of bottled water every week and throwing the bottles in the bin afterwards (no recycling in Kuwait). I horrified a number of people who saw me drinking water from the tap.

    • Draco T Bastard 12.2

      It’s the branding that will bring in the dollars. Not that it’s water.

  13. roy cartland 13

    If this continues, someone from anonymous could well put out a video saying they’ll pee in every 50th batch. That would be outrageous of course. They might even sticker some bottles in supermarkets with a message saying so. I’d really, really, really be against such behaviour. Imagine the damage it would do to the water-exporting business. It could collapse it overnight and no one would trust our water ever again! We’d be sunk; the extraction companies would go under.

    • Wensleydale 13.1

      “May contain traces of urine and faeces.”

      That’s how you know it’s genuine New Zealand water.

    • Bill 13.2

      Alternatively send Mr Nisbet a polite letter (his contact details are through the ‘Alpine Pure’ link provided in the post).

      And if you live up near Manurewa, then you just might pass him on the street, and of course you could enter into a polite face to face conversation with him.

      This is Mr Nisbet. (Yes, he’s a director of more than one company)

      And this is his mate who owns half of the shares in ‘Alpine Pure’. (And he’s also a director in more then…yeah, you get the story)

    • gsays 13.3

      Hi Roy, I think the ptb have thought that one through.
      There are statutes dealing with what you are describing:
      They fall into a terrorism area, you know, being a threat to profits, or putting a dampener to another’s rampant greed.

  14. inspider 14

    There have been proposals to pull water from Deep Cove for about 30 years. None of them have been economic, and it’s hard to see how this could complete with a simple bore well and a bottling plant.

    • Draco T Bastard 14.1

      The price of labour has been dropping in New Zealand for the last thirty years.

  15. Antoine 15

    Puzzling why the DIstrict Council would give resource consent for the take of water, or moreso the pipeline…

      • Antoine 15.1.1

        Can you be more specific? Who pays the $$$ to who??

        • One Anonymous Bloke

          Google really is your friend, you know. See if you can find one of the recent articles describing the financial arrangements in question. You can do it.

          Or take Weka’s word for it. Either will serve you equally well.

  16. adam 16

    One axe, and we’d have a new river.

    • weka 16.1

      I can think of better uses for the axe though.

      • adam 16.1.1

        One earthquack

        • Robert Guyton

          On Opening Day for the duck hunting season – poetry!

          • Antoine

            Robert since you’re here, do you know the answer to my question above?

            • Robert Guyton

              Your District Council question?
              I’m a Regional Councillor (Environment Southland) and regional councils provide consents for water extraction for various reasons and those are usually linked to industry; farming etc. Regional councils are charged with resource management and the definition of that is a source of constant debate. I’m inclined to believe that should mean protection, but others who sit on regional councils appear to see opportunities for industry as a higher priority; it’s a constant tension, with the “protectors” generally losing out to the “exploiters”, in my opinion.
              I think weka meant that the recipient of the consent profits monetarily from being granted consent to extract water and that is the motivation for applying ; weka is right, imo.

              • Antoine

                I’m sure they seek the consent to gain money, that’s clear, but wasn’t sure why the consent would be granted. Thanks for your answer on why this could be!

                • weka

                  I also meant that the council in questions is pro-business making $ over protection (as RG clarified). ‘Bring prosperity to the region’ kind of thing. Not sure if the council also gets direct benefit, I’m guessing they do.

                  It’s just wasted water otherwise right? May as well make money. It’s tied into old paradigm ideas about job creation too, where industry and investment are seen as the backbone of people making a living and then we do what we can get away with in terms of the environment. I also think that some people (mostly men of a certain class and disposition) just get a kick out building projects like this. That’s why it will have some support in the community too.

                  Other than environmental grounds, that whole approach doesn’t serve locals particularly well, as most of the money made will go elsewhere. What we want is wellbeing being generated. So that’s income, but also future-proofing, security, and community development which would be better served by supporting the local economy.

                  • Antoine

                    What direct benefit are you guessing that the council gets?

                    • weka

                      Increased rates, fees associated with applications, presumably $ from the water take if that’s where we are headed now, I’m sure there are others including non-monetary ones. I’m not suggesting anything nefarious, just that that whole set up is a business now, so of course things that are good for the business are going to be looked on favourably.

                    • Antoine

                      Robert does that ring any bells?

                  • Draco T Bastard

                    What we want is wellbeing being generated. So that’s income

                    One of the things we should have learned over the last few centuries is that increased income does not equal more well being. In fact, IMO, increased income results in worse well-being because of the degradation of community and the environment that comes with it.

                    Increased productivity within environmental limits and maintaining community would result in more well-being but that’s not what we’re doing.

                    • weka

                      I didn’t say income = wellbeing (and please don’t selectively quote my words). What I was talking about is that people need to have income or a way of making a living in order to have wellbeing. In our system that usually means work for $, but it’s not limited to that. I’m also not talking about increased income, I’m talking about having the wherewith all to have shelter, food, health etc needs taken care of, and enough extra to have a quality of life beyond survival.

                      “increased productivity” is another piece of language that could easily be taken out of context. Just saying.

                  • Draco T Bastard

                    I didn’t say income = wellbeing (and please don’t selectively quote my words).

                    Yeah, actually, you did and I quoted all that was necessary to show that. You yourself placed the comma there that gave that meaning.

                    In our system that usually means work for $, but it’s not limited to that. I’m also not talking about increased income, I’m talking about having the wherewith all to have shelter, food, health etc needs taken care of, and enough extra to have a quality of life beyond survival.

                    And in the context of the present system that usually means increased income. Look at how we almost always discuss increased benefits for getting people out of poverty.

                    “increased productivity” is another piece of language that could easily be taken out of context. Just saying.

                    In what way?

                    • McFlock

                      So 2=7?
                      Or does 2+1+4=7?

                      So that’s income, but also future-proofing, security, and community development which would be better served by supporting the local economy.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      Nothing after the comma changes the meaning because it ends with “supporting the local economy”.

                      English != maths

                    • Antoine

                      Draco you’re being a dork. Anyone can see that weka was referring to income as being ONE of the forms of well-being being generated, along with “future-proofing, security” and etc.

                    • McFlock

                      Three meaningless bits in the middle of a sentence? Golly.

                      In which case maybe you should ask the perpetrator of such a grammatical crime whether they intended to muddy a sentence by three objects without meaning, or maybe they don’t have the same grammatical precision as you.

                      Or you could go off half-cocked.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      Anyone can see that weka was referring to income as being ONE of the forms of well-being being generated, along with “future-proofing, security” and etc.

                      And how was that future-proofing and security going to be founded?

                      Oh, that’s right, by “supporting the local economy” which really does translate into higher incomes.

                      Which, as I point out, is actually part of the problem.

                      We have cars because of higher incomes.
                      We throw out huge amounts of food because of higher incomes.
                      We have massive inequality because of higher incomes.

                      We have to change it so that people can’t afford to own cars, can’t afford throw food out and can’t afford to buy shares in a company so as to become bludgers.

                    • Antoine

                      > We have to change it so that people can’t afford to own cars, can’t afford throw food out and can’t afford to buy shares in a company so as to become bludgers.

                      You seem insane.


                    • McFlock

                      And how was that future-proofing and security going to be founded?

                      Oh, that’s right, by “supporting the local economy” which really does translate into higher incomes.

                      Although the oxford comma suggests otherwise.

                      Giving all of your subsequent degrees of worst-case extrapolation (“supporting the local economy” does not necessarily mean “increased incomes” exclusively or in part) extremely doubtful grounds upon which to lose your shit.

                    • weka

                      Draco, I have some sympathy for the general point you are making here, I just wish you would stop misusing my comments to make it. Whatever you are interpreting in what I wrote, it’s not what I believe and you are distorting my intent. You don’t have to do that to make your own points and your own points would stand up better if you didn’t.

        • weka

          I think people living on the West Coast have to have a pretty high level of cognitive dissonance on that one. They’re the ones that are going to get hit really hard when the Fault shifts, loss of a pipeline is probably not going to be anything close to a priority.

          It would be interesting to see a flood risk assessment.

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