Queenstown Lakes District Council has announced its support for a moratorium on commercial water bottling in New Zealand.
At its meeting on January 30, councillors resolved to “request the Chief Executive to engage with the Otago Regional Council to explore any options to mitigate the impact of commercial water bottling based on the potential social and environmental impacts and concerns.” Mayor Jim Boult has also written to Environment Minister David Parker.
Water bottling consents are under increased scrutiny nationwide. Last April, Christchurch City Council gave $50,000 to lobby group Aotearoa Water Action (AWA) towards the legal costs of its High Court action against Environment Canterbury consents given in Canterbury. In July, Upper Hutt City Council member Angela McCleod spoke out against a consent granted by Wellington Regional Council in 2013 to bottle up to 180 million litres of water, which was not publicly notified.
Regionally, ORC has issued three permits as of January 2020, including a permit for Koha Water (Dart River, north of Glenorchy) — although this consent has not been acted upon. Deputy Chair in the Dunstan Constituency Michael Laws said he was, “very disheartened at the prospect of the ORC issuing consents for the commercial bottling of our pristine waters.
“In my view, it should cease the issue of consents, and I will be making representations to that effect.”
On QLDC’s decision to join the movement to pause current and future consents, Councillor and AWA spokesperson Nikki Gladding said she was “a bit proud of QLDC,” adding that “our CE will see if we can work with the ORC to address the issue via the review of the Regional Water Plan.”