Or should I say ‘Plasticised’ NZ water anyone?
A December High Court decision (now at the Court of Appeal) has affirmed an Environment Court decision that allows a Chinese-owned bottling plant at Otariki Springs in the Bay of Plenty to draw water from the aquifer, put it in plastic bottles and ship it to China.
At the rate of 1.1 million cubic metres of water a year for 25 years.
Now, I won’t go into the legal technicalities that convinced both the Environment Court and the High Court to decide against blocking this outcome.
After all, it’s the business of lawyers to find ways to justify immoral behaviour. And they’re just doing their job here … abetted unfortunately by conflicting testimony from within the Māori community that pitted the environment and mauri of the water against the promise of Māori jobs. On that point, the Environment Court sided with the jobs, a judgment not further contestable.
So let’s get this straight …
NZ charges royalties for our oil & gas, but not for our even more precious water.
So, our aquifer water is freely available for any commercial or industrial purpose – from fueling Wattie’s canned goods and any number of ‘juice’ products now produced in HB, to irrigating fruit, pastures and crops, to – oh, yes, now we object … bottling it ‘pure’ for sale.
Adding insult to injury, we then pour it in plastic bottles to the tune of billions of plastic bottles – assuming 1 litre bottles, 1.1 billion from this BOP plant alone each year … ending up who knows where. Possibly some recycled (astonishingly, the BOP company CEO claims he’s uncertain whether his bottles can be recycled!), possibly some in landfills, and – most certainly – much in oceans.
You’ll recall Hawke’s Bay has a few water bottling operations. What’s your view?
Should commercial and industrial users of water be charged for it – if so, only some of them (which ones) … or all of them?
[And I’m not asking about charging for the ‘infrastructure’ that delivers the water … I mean the water itself. Last we checked, if a farmer buys a bag of fertiliser, he pays for both the bag and its contents.]
Forget what’s in the bottles, should NZ be party to growing a plastic bottle exporting industry?