Otago water bottling consents “insignificant”

Wanaka Sun (page 1) 23 March 2017 by Glenda Turnbull - email: journalist@thewanakasun.co.nz

The Otago Regional Council (ORC) has briefed its councillors on water consents at its meeting held on Wednesday March 22 after it was revealed two consents had been granted to bottle and export millions of litres of water from Mount Aspiring National Park and the Dart River.

ORC councillor Michael Laws asked for information in an email to the ORC Chairman.  

Michael Laws said, “As a new councillor I was completely unaware of the consent until the news story, and would like to know how many other such consents linger in the ORC files, that have the capacity to embarrass us and run counter to existing or proposed council water policy.”

Two resource consents have been highlighted in recent weeks. The first, a resource consent applied for in the Westland District Council, is for Okuru Enterprises Limited to construct, maintain and operate a bulk water export facility at Tuning Fork Creek and Jackson Bay/Neils Beach.

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The second is for Koha Water Limited to extract 236 million litres of water per year from a unique underground aquifer located in the Dart River Valley consented to by ORC.

Local residents are becoming increasingly vocal about the potential bottling and sale of our water overseas.

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Lake Hawea resident Leeann Morton attended the resource consent hearing for the Okuru application in Haast last Friday March 17 because of her growing concerns over export of New Zealand water.

“I found out about the Okuru application through the Bung the Bore Facebook page. I was amazed that something could get to this stage with so few people knowing about it. I’m not happy that this public resource can be taken by one company to profit from it,” Leeann said.

Leeann said she understood the local people’s point of view wanting to get something sustainable and increase jobs in the area, but there needed to be more consultation with the public.

“It is the process I’m not in favour of. The councils seem to be able to okay these projects because the consents are non-notifiable. The public is kept completely in the dark. That is what has to change.  People need to have a say in what happens,” Leeann said.

ORC consent manager Chris Shaw confirmed in a memorandum there are currently three consents issued for bottling water in Otago. wanaka_pharmacy 808

The first, issued to JM Love in 1996 gives consent to take 4493 cubic metres per year and is for domestic purposes and irrigation of one hectare.

The second, issued to Green Ocean Group in 1998, gives consent to take 87,600 cubic metres per year and is for small-scale bottling and domestic purposes.

The third is for Koha Water Limited consent issued in 2007. To date this consent has not been used and will expire in 2019 unless an extension is sought.

The memorandum stated this was a “small water take and equivalent to the water used by a small irrigated farm.”

The memorandum also highlighted that in assessing the Koha Water application the nearest bore to the consent holder’s activity was over one kilometre away.

“The assessment using Schedule 5B of the Regional Plan Water showed that at one kilometre from the proposed take the drawdown effect would be less than one centimetre and therefore the overall effect would be no more than minor. Consequently the application had to be processed as a non-notified application.

The three consents ORC has issued for bottling water represent 0.15 percent of all takes and 0.05 percent of all consents.

This equates to 0.0037 percent of Otago’s water allocation per year,” Chris stated.

The memorandum went on to say “the environmental impact of current water bottling consents in Otago is insignificant and at a level where it would be difficult to measure any adverse effect.

It is highly unlikely that any further proposals to bottle water in Otago would have any effect that was more than minor - any such effect could be controlled using the resource consent process.”

Click to read the print edition of the Wanaka Sun online... Wanaka Sun | 23 - 29 Mar 2017 | Edition 810


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