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Plundering of water

Written By: - Date published: 6:34 am, July 5th, 2017 - 71 comments
Categories: disaster, Environment, sustainability, water - Tags: ,

NZ Pure Blue wants to build ‘the largest water bottling plant in the southern hemisphere’ in Putaruru

The same water bottling company that tried to suck Canterbury Plains dry before SumOfUs members stopped it now wants to build ‘the largest production bottling plant in the southern hemisphere’ in Waikato.

This monstrosity will drain Putaruru’s Blue Spring in the Waihou River of a staggering 6.9 million litres a day—more than a billion litres more per year than the Ashburton deal we came together and squashed.

Every drop of this pure, artesian water will be exported for at least 15 years if NZ Pure Blue has its way. Our most precious resource bottled, processed and shipped overseas all in the name of corporate profit.

There’s. No. Way. Tell the Waikato Regional Council to protect Putaruru’s precious Blue Spring.

We don’t even know how much NZ Pure Blue will pay for some of the purest water in the world—but we do know it won’t be anything close to what it’s worth. There aren’t even royalty laws like there are for oil and gas—even gravel—even though water is our most precious and valuable resource.

What we do know is that we can stop it. When NZ Pure Blue tried to drain the drought-prone Canterbury Plains for corporate profit, tens of thousands of NZ SumOfUs members stood up and said no. And we killed it. Now NZ Pure Blue thinks it can just move house and try again. We stopped it in Ashburton, we can stop it in South Waikato too.

Join us and tell the Waikato Regional Council to reject NZ Pure Blue’s application to suck the Waihou River dry.

More information

New Zealand anger as pristine lakes tapped for bottled water market

The Guardian. 27 March 2017.

NZ Pure Blue wants to send millions of litres of Waikato water offshore

NZ Herald. 27 June 2017.

Sign the petition (39,362 signatures so far)

TO: Waikato Regional Council

Reject NZ Pure Blue’s application to suck Putaruru’s Blue Spring dry!

71 comments on “Plundering of water ”

  1. tc 1

    Winnie was front page Waikato times this week about water, farming, land dev etc having a pop at WDC.

    Someone should put the old grandstander on the spot over this to make him take a position pre election.

  2. RedLogix 2

    Bottled water is an environmental crime anyway.



    Get that. One million fucking bottles a minute! Staggering folly. Never ever buy water in a plastic bottle.

    Oh and some years back we walked into these springs; a pleasant 90 min walk on open farmland and river banks. The springs really are an deep vivid colour and rather special.

    • Rae 2.1

      I think that side of all of this is the one that really needs working on to wake people up, I 100% agree with you

  3. Pete 3

    We can imagine it now, in the height of summer the Russian Billionaire trucking in 50,000 litres a day to water his Helena Bay lawn.

  4. ianmac 4

    Every little or big protest hopefully has cumulative effect. (Can cold water be a hot potato?)

  5. Wayne 5

    The various campaigns against bottling water are just ridiculous. New Zealand, compared to just about every country in the world, has a vast amount of water.

    The amount of water used for bottled water, relative to the supply, is trivial. Using figures like millions of litres just illustrates how much water there is. For instance a typical swimming pool has millions of litres, but compared to a river, it is nothing.

    “Plunder” might have emotional appeal but it is completely over the top, a modern moral panic with almost no basis in fact. The fact that Moana Maniapoto is on the case illustrates everything that is wrong with the campaign.It is frankly ridiculous to suggest that all bottled water be banned, a typical virtue signalling left response. It is the equivalent of Hollywood stars coming out for Hilliary, which probably helped ensure her electoral loss.

    The Europeans (Evian, Perrier, San Pellegrino, Vittel, etc) have been bottling huge quantities of water for decades without any moral panic.

    I have no problem with an appropriate levy, but in reality it could only be 1 to 5 cents per litre. I imagine for the bottler the sale price of litre is around 50c, quite possibly less. At present all of that price is the bottle, overheads, costs of bottling etc. In any event a water charging system can not have too many differential charges for different uses. For instance a 5 c litre charge for irrigation would probably be thousands of dollars a day for a typical diary farm. Mind you for many on the hard left that is exactly what they want, the end of the dairy industry.

    • Ah yes, Wayne, “the amount of water used for bottled water, relative to the supply, is trivial”. Quite right, but that’s not the real issue, though it’ll suit you to frame “ridiculous” campaigns against selling water through that narrow aspect.
      Are you completely unaware of why those campaigners are hot under the collar around this issue? I suspect you know full well, yet have chosen to try to set the scene for discussion, excluding the real focus of public anger, for your own ends.
      The water-for-sale issue reeks of the same thinking and behaviour that brought us the “swamp kauri” outrage; people sense they are being lied-to, mislead and shafted by “clever-dicks” with money and the support of the National Government. Calling them “ridiculous” is arrogant.

      • JamieB 5.1.1

        ” why those campaigners are hot under the collar around this issue?”

        Because they enjoy a perpetual state of complaining and campaigning? Once this dies down they’ll quickly move onto the next thing to remain hot under their collars.

        • left_forward

          You look to be a long way from understanding the motives of people who campaign to improve environment and society.

        • Robert Guyton

          JamieB – you had a go at explaining the behaviour and motivations of those people who are opposing the water-for-sale issue, but missed the mark by a country mile. Have you no experience at all of standing up for something important? Are you a stranger to the meaning of the word “heartfelt”? Are you Mike Hoskings? Do you at least believe yourself to be cloned from his rib?

      • Ian 5.1.2

        This is more like the clever dicks with limited resources getting upset because they didn’t think of it. The public anger is a media beat up fired by politicians on the left,like yourself Robert.
        Wayne talks a lot of sense.

    • “Mind you for many on the hard left that is exactly what they want, the end of the dairy industry.”

      Mind you for many on the hard right what they want is an exponential increase of the dairy herd in every possible part of the country, until the whole place stinks of cow shit and money.
      Just thought I’d post the balancing statement to your snarky claim.

    • Panic gnat 101

      Moana is a stronger person than you’ll ever be – you exude weakness like sweat from your pores – hey wayne maybe we can sell THAT shit.

    • Andre 5.4

      A while back I was arguing here in support of the bottled water industry, provided it was taken from places where the effect was negligible (with the feedback I’m sure you can imagine).

      But I strongly oppose this particular proposal. Because the Te Waihou springs really is an environmental treasure, so it deserves extra protection. However, the resource is already heavily drawn on.

      As I understand, the total springs flow is 42 million litres per day. 5.3 million litres per day is already allocated. If another 6.9 million per day gets drawn, that’s nearly a third of the flow gone. That’s way way way too much load on a treasure like that. At any price.

      • marty mars 5.4.1

        The problem with your argument is who decides if it is negligible – government and local bodies cannot be trusted to get it right as the post here and recent efforts at Te Waikoropupu shows. Tangata whenua are the best bet for sanity on this issue.

    • tc 5.5

      Yes dear. Try harder wayne your argument is as transparent as the natural resource you want to give away.

      You guys arent satisfied with just ruining our waterways are you.

    • McFlock 5.6

      “virtue signalling”?
      Wayne, I frequently disagree with you, but I thought you were better than spouting 4chan space-fillers.

    • left_forward 5.7

      Kia ora Wayne,

      What is wrong with the idea of ending the dairy industry? – all that cruelty, death, environmental damage, and unsaturated fats. We have viable, alternative plant based milks which allow us to avoid all of that.

      This is a simple switch to sustainable and healthy farming – surely I didn’t need to be a ‘hard’ lefty to think about that!

    • Then Wayne perhaps you can tell me why water metres are being placed all over Aotearoa . One reason privatization of water. The corporate s will have taken over the “special” springs as a health source separate to the large corporate that will take over our water.
      Tories will deny it but just watch this space. I bet the first to Privatize
      will be Waipa District Council ,once again just watch this space.

    • Sacha 5.9

      As a proportion of *potable* water, not all of our polluted waterways.

    • Keepcalmcarryon 5.10

      Fuck off wayne, get your corrupt greedy national party mitts off what belongs to us all. You don’t have my permission to sell off my country.

    • Rae 5.11

      Am I to assume that the percentage of water you speak of is a percentage of the pure water, the kind that is sought by these bottlers and not a percentage of all fresh water in the country. Better be.
      And even a far right winger must be able to understand even the tiniest little bit that we have got to stop this business of single use plastic bottles, not just here, but everywhere

  6. Only the desperate, the depraved and dispicable want to bottle water and then sell it for profit.

    NO! Let’s stop these scum, let’s show them the truth about water and the truth about their sick creepy agenda to sell evrything. They’d sell you too if they could get away with it – don’t think that they wouldn’t.

    • In Vino 6.1

      Good one Marty. But these people call themselves ‘entrepreneurs’ (a French word) as if it were something good. They need to be called what they are: Profit-Gougers.

      • Red 6.1.1

        This topic really brings out the LWNJ, water bottlers are obviously meeting a need or would not be around, the water they take is not an issue on any criteria barring the rent a mob flavour Of the month,as favoured topics like alk house prices are no longer rising, peak oil has not happened, the dairy price crash was not the end of nz fsrming sector , peak Todd Barclay has past but a rest assured s new peak crisis is always around the corner for these wombats

  7. ianmac 7

    For one million litres, 1 cent per litre is $10,000 isn’t it?
    If that money went back into the local environment wouldn’t that be a big win!

    • It is a barbed hook imo. Can only get bigger, take more they will NEVER reduce it later only increase. Therefore that is another reason to oppose.

      Lotto putting money into fighting problem gambling – doesn’t add up to me. Bottle water capitalists putting money into protecting waterways? It is just so that they can make more money and frankly I’m not supporting that.

    • Red 7.2

      About 6k net once flushed though government departments

  8. Ad 8

    So if we added food colouring and alcohol, and put it in a glass bottle, we would be OK with it?

    • weka 8.1

      I’d be more ok with glass for sure. But there’s still the problem of the carbon miles. I’m good with not exporting alcohol too.

      • Ad 8.1.1

        So that means no export from New Zealand that involves a water-based fluid.
        Unless you start making some sensible policy distinctions other than banning water, the people who work in the following work areas will be quickly unemployed:

        – Wine industry
        – Beer industry
        – Juice industry
        – Milk industry
        – Sports drink industry
        – Honey industry
        – Meat industry
        – Fruit industry

        Which I am sure would be so fun to just ban everything that moves.
        Very satisfying.

        You need better policy distinctions.

        • weka

          Banning new bottled water is an easy one, why not start there? No job losses, protects the environment, puts a line in the sand around treating water as a common good rather than a commodity.

          And irrigation of course.

          These are not difficult things to do expect that there are still a lot of greedy people around, and another lot of people who think that the only way to make a living is via extractive industry. There are a whole bunch of other people with actual ideas on how to create meaningful employment that doesn’t trash the environment, we even have a political party based on that. Why not look at their work?

          The whole environment vs jobs thing is so 90s. We’re well past that now.

          And yes, ultimately exports need to account for carbon emissions or we need to do things differently. That too isn’t that hard to imagine without resorting to banning everything this week.

        • Robert Guyton

          Drink reductio ad absurdum – bottled taste sensation!

          • weka

            eau de reductio ad absurdum. Wouldn’t fit easily on the bottle though.

            • In Vino

              ‘Appellation Controllée + repeat of name should go on the label too.
              A big ask, sadly.

    • McFlock 8.2

      Well, here’s the thing:

      Unlike a few people here, I’m not opposed to water exports as such.

      I am opposed to exporting water from over-exploited canterbury.
      I am opposed to incrementally damaging some of our most beautiful places by taking water from them at source.
      I’m opposed to the idea that water running into the sea is wasted – it’s an integral part of some of our most valuable ecosystems.
      I’m opposed to the idea that our tourism industry and environmental record should be sold piecemeal. We can be “100% pure” or be responsible for millions of plastic water bottles being thrown away daily, not both.

      But there’s also a value-added issue that you raise: exporting water is like exporting kauri logs or wood chips. Exporting wine is like exporting fabricated furniture. Even if we could take a quarter of the daily inflow of these springs without harming them, the environment, or our reputation, why the hell would we lock ourselves in for fifteen years of lowest possible product?

      • Andre 8.2.1

        Thing is, people are willing to pay bizarrely irrational high prices for the water before any real value gets added to it. It’s like someone being willing to pay a lot more for a raw log than they are for all the furniture that could be made from it. Bottled water retails at very roughly the same price as milk, but to produce a litre of milk in Canterbury requires around 250 litres of aquifer water (which has a couple hundred times the retail price of that litre of milk), which gets run through a cow to get loaded up with nitrates and coliforms then dumped back on the ground to pollute rivers and aquifers.

        Normally I’ve got a moral problem with taking financial advantage of the mentally deficient, but I’m happy to make an exception for selling water. Because for all the problems it creates, it’s still a much higher value and less environmentally damaging use of it than giving it away to big ag (which is what happens now). Provided a royalty gets paid.

        • garibaldi

          Water is the new oil and we are fools to give it away in long term contracts.
          Wars are going to be fought over water.
          Our water is a fantastic resource and our “leaders” are short sighted dumbarses for not highly prizing it, let alone not even pricing it.
          Where are the opposition parties on this? It’s a huge opportunity to crucify this govt. Come on Greens, make a noise !

          • Halfcrown

            “Water is the new oil ”

            You are right garibaldi, I remember when we had the first oil crises way back in 76/77 a certain National party man who I had one hell of a lot of time for said to me, ” future crises will be over water, not oil”. At the time I thought he’s lost his marbles, but he was right. I understand and I am really not sure, that the Syrian refugee crises was started by a severe drought caused by global warming. Also, big money is gearing up to control “own” the water as much as possible throughout the world.

        • marty mars

          You’re taking advantage of the desperate – wait a bit for a few to die then put the price up – nice big profit for you then yay

          • Andre

            Nobody who pays premium dollar for a small quantity of water shipped from somewhere remote like New Zealand is desperate. Because there will always be perfectly good locally produced water available at a lower price. Unless you meant desperately stupid and it somehow got truncated.

            • marty mars

              Yeah you’re not desperate therefore no one is. Water wars have started already – this is a problem for us all. Unless you sell water or guns then its profit city.

              • Andre

                Are you suggesting the tiny volumes of water in the premium bottled drinking water segment are somehow relevant to the widespread water shortages that cause agriculture failures and famine in places like Syria or the Horn of Africa?

                • Water wars have started.

                  Wars around the scarcity of water.

                  Whilst bottled water from here is tiny in volume that does not make it irrelevant, it makes it relevant and is ANOTHER reason to forego profits for some corporations over the common wealth of water to all citizens.

                  • Andre

                    On a worldwide scale, bottled water isn’t even visible as a hair-thin line on the chart of water use.

                    In 2017, worldwide bottled water was around 390 million cubic metres. In 2010, total anthropogenic water withdrawals from from rivers aquifers etc was around 4000 billion cubic metres, 10 000 times more than bottled water use. Even just evaporation from reservoirs was around 400 billion cubic metres, 1000 times more than bottled water use.

                    Bottled water is utterly irrelevant to the problems causing water wars, because it’s such a tiny tiny portion of water use.



                    • The numbers aren’t the point for me but I suspect you already know that.

                    • In Vino

                      But bottled water is an unnecessary bourgeois pox upon the face modern consumerism. And the plastic bottle waste is an environmental crime.

                    • Andre

                      “bottled water is an unnecessary bourgeois pox upon the face modern consumerism”

                      I totally agree, with the caveat that there are still some developed world places (think Flint) and a lot of the Third World that doesn’t have safe high quality water. In Wisconsin the tap water was so vile I used bottled water for drinking and cooking. But in general, as far as I’m concerned, buyers of the stuff are morons with too much money. But if we’re in a position to satisfy those bizarre desires without harming our own commons, we may as well let that cash flow our way

                      If we want to enjoy the nice things about modern life, including using this utterly fantastic interwebby thingy to argue with strangers, we need to earn our way in the world so they keep sending us nice stuff in return. In the broad spectrum of unnecessary bourgeois poxy things we modern humans do, bottled water is lowish on the harm scale, especially compared to a lot of the other things we do to earn our way.

        • McFlock

          Or we could use the purity of the water as a wedge for high-end spirits.

          Intensive dairying is shit, yes. This is not a reason to sell our cleanest water, it is a reason to either lower the intensity of dary farming or make them clean up their act.

      • Ad 8.2.2

        So if the water was drawn from Putaruru, and put into glass bottles, your opposition would evaporate.

        The post is about water taken from Putaruru.

        The really high premium Antipodes water, among others, is exported in glass.

        • Johan

          Coming up with logical statements doesn’t seem to be your strength Ad.

        • McFlock

          Is Putaruru not beautiful?
          Does the water not flow into the sea?

          • Andre

            Putaruru is not beautiful. Trust me on this. It doesn’t even have the tacky pseudo-charm of Tirau. It has a food court that’s not bad, all things considered, but that’s the sum of positive things I can say about it.

            Te Waihou springs, on the other hand, is an outstandingly beautiful little patch of Aotearoa. Worthy of all the protection we can give it. Sadly, it loses its extraordinary attractiveness just a few short kilometres from the source as it flows through farmland. It probably loses its water quality at about the same place.

            • McFlock

              Well, there’s the solution then.

              Don’t bottle it, make the farmers clean their shit up up.

  9. Ad 9

    The owners of NZBlue are New Zealanders:
    Mr John Paynter and Mr Royden Hartnett.


  10. Glenn 10

    Fiji is doing well with the bottled water industry there apparently because they have a government who is prepared to enforce an acceptable return for it’s resources.

    “In November 2010, Fiji deported Fiji Water director of external affairs, David Roth, for “interfering in Fiji’s domestic affairs,” leading to the resignation of interim defence and immigration minister, Ratu Epeli Ganilau. Shortly afterwards, 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. The next step for the brand was thought to be a move to New Zealand. However, after threats from the government to give the well to another company,[ Fiji Water announced its intent to resume operations and accept the new tax levy.

    In December 2010, Fiji Water’s Fiji plant had 400 employees.[23] Fiji Water has also established a foundation to provide water filters to rural Fiji communities, many of which lack access to clean water”

    Even then the percentage Fiji is getting is not huge…but huge in comparison to NZ.
    NZ is being run by carpetbaggers.

    • Ad 10.1

      +100 good comparison

    • Andre 10.2

      There’s a lot of values and principles worthy of debate in that charge to Fiji’s water bottlers.

      15 cents per litre is an enormous charge on unprocessed water. Watercare in Auckland charges 0.15 cents per litre to supply treated water, and another 0.3 cents or so to take away 80% of it away again. 15 cents per litre would immediately stop all irrigation and almost all industrial use of water, and domestic would cut way way back to not much more than drinking and cooking, with showers once every couple of weeks.

      On the other hand, if the water supply isn’t absolutely premium quality from a natural source, its value as bottled water is bugger-all. Keeping the natural water quality high absolutely depends on looking after the commons. So since the water’s commercial value derives from keeping the commons in good condition, surely it’s fair to expect the bottlers to pay a hefty charge that at least partly goes back to maintaining the commons.

  11. RedLogix 11

    The core problem with bottled water is the entirely shitty business model. It utterly depends on the failure in many countries to provide public drinking water supplies that people trust.

    The typical Grade A municipal water supply in NZ is every bit as safe as anything that comes in a bottle. At a tiny, tiny fraction of the cost.

    The problem is huge nations, especially in Asia, don’t have water they trust. A lack of trust in public institutions is deeply endemic and a now wealthy middle class is growing an unprecedented demand for water they think they is safe.

    Three problems:

    1. The potential global demand in unknown and could easily exceed our ability to supply, No-one really understands where this industry could go to.

    2. The sheer volume of waste plastic is even more alarming. Put simply we need global agreements in place that require end-to-end life cycle management and of ALL manufactured products. The Europeans have made useful progress regionally, now it needs rolling out globally.

    The big cost in bottled water is distribution; if the same chain had to handle the waste bottle … the business model might look a lot less attractive.

    3. The big hot spud; no-one wants to touch the question of pricing water, because guess who will put their hands up and say they own it all? Not this close to an election.

    • Andre 11.1

      That doesn’t explain the popularity of bottled water in places with very high quality public water supplies, like most of New Zealand or, say, New York.

      Dunno about Asia, but most places I paid attention to the bottled water in Africa, there would be an expensive non-local choice, and a local product a lot cheaper. The empty bottles also seemed to be a valuable commodity.

      • Draco T Bastard 11.1.1

        That doesn’t explain the popularity of bottled water in places with very high quality public water supplies, like most of New Zealand or, say, New York.

        That’s advertising that persuades people that bottled water is better for them. This is, of course, a lie and so the advertising is nothing more than psychopathic manipulation of the populace.

  12. greywarshark 12

    The core problem with taking water from its area is that the world is going to be short of water and it is a resource that we also need. The gummint central and local who want to do this are dinosaurs who should be gently killed and then stuffed and mounted so they can be kept for posterity in a museum.

    Plus all the other dills who think that water grows on trees. Trees can’t even grow without water. There seems to be a circular argument here. Better stop exporting and have a fistfight about it instead of letting the pickpockets and asset strippers sell off our goodies while we don’t understand they are priceless.

  13. Well Wayne if you believe we have water to spare perhaps you will explain why water metres are being installed throughout the country.
    No doubt to privatize the water system .Blue spring will be sold as “special water’ but will still be part of a privatized water system.
    Tories will of course deny this but just watch this space and I bet one off the first to privatize their water will be the Wiapa District Council .
    Just watch this space.

  14. Ad 14

    If NZFirst gets in for 2017 – which it will either way- we are going to start needing a “national interest test” for stuff being exported: is it critical for our security?

    President Trump is planning to make a decision on whether to declare steel critical to national security under the rarely-used trade rule Section 232. The suggestion to even launch a Section 232 investigation was dismissed out of hand under President Bill Clinton because – in the words of Robert Lawrence a member of President Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisors – “it didn’t pass the laugh test”. Only 3 per cent of the steel produced in the United States went for defence purposes.

    That would also make it eligible for protection from imports.

    Worth applying that kind of logic to water if we are expecting a government to start really regulating this kind of export, and gives a sense of the scale of the decision both to the government and to the economy.

  15. Rae 15

    If water is to be extracted, bottled and exported then it should be done as an NZ venture, no foreign companies, no private interests. Reason for this, is that sometime down the track, the consent may have to change (reduce) or be stopped altogether. We should not allow these resources to be tied up for decades when the possibility that we may need that water for ourselves at some time in the future, exists.
    But then there is the matter of those single use plastic bottles, seriously the whole world, the whole human race has to accept we cannot keep doing this.

    • Ad 15.1

      If you seriously want to nationalize all water, then you better get ready to spend the next decade in the Waitangi Tribunal, Appeals Court, and Supreme Court.

      • Rae 15.1.1

        No reason to fear that. One thing is for certain it should not fall into the ownership or control of foreigners and that is precisely what is happening with these consents.Much rather Maori had that if anyone is to have it, frankly.

  16. Philj 16

    Simply brilliant Wayne,
    Despoil their water supply and then sell them clean bottled water! Genius.

  17. Incognito 17

    This monstrosity will drain Putaruru’s Blue Spring in the Waihou River of a staggering 6.9 million litres a day.

    Hmmm, that must be getting close to or even exceed the total daily water consumption of the whole New Zealand population, not counting the tourists, of course.

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