Water is a key point of interest for many in Christchurch and more than 1000 are expected to take to the streets on Saturday to protest against what they say is its misuse.
Environment Canterbury chairman Steve Lowndes has welcomed a rally against water bottling in Christchurch on Saturday, but wants protesters to “cut the crap” and stick to the facts.
Organisers believe more than 1000 people will take to the city’s streets to send a message to the government that it cannot “give their water away”.
Scott Esdaile arranged the rally after growing frustrated at what he feels is Christchurch’s water “disappearing into corporate hands”.
Supported by campaign group Aotearoa Water Action, the march will start at the corner of Cashel and Manchester streets at 12.30pm, before making its way up Oxford Terrace, along Worcester Boulevard and into Cathedral Square.
Esdaile said: “This is something that affects every person who puts a cup under a tap … we need to change the law to stop all water bottling in this country. We don’t want to be sending our kids to the store to buy water in the future. We don’t want to be standing outside the water bottling plant in Belfast begging them for water.”
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Lowndes – who last month said he was joining the climate change campaign group Extinction Rebellion – said he applauded efforts to protect water, but urged those taking part to understand the issues to avoid being misled.
Among the things riling him is confusion over a second water bottling plant in Belfast.
The Christchurch City Council is considering an application by Cloud Ocean to build another factory, while ECan issues water consents.
ECan gave permission to Cloud Ocean Water and Rapaki Natural Resources to take 1.57 billion litres of water annually from two bores at the old Kaputone wool scour site on Station Rd, using decades-old consents.
The right of companies such as Cloud Ocean Water to rely on the transfer of existing older consents to take water is being challenged through the courts.
Lowndes also expressed frustration at connections some have made between both water bottling and the quality of aquifers with Christchurch’s temporary chlorination and the current water restrictions.
Restrictions have been brought in to allow the city council to take wells offline and fix them, not because of a lack of water.
Lowndes said while ECan is listening to the “obvious” sensitivities and concerns people have about water bottling, the Government’s position that nobody owns water means there is no ability stop anyone from profiting from it or exporting it.
The Resource Management Act ties ECan’s hands over granting consents, he said.
“Right now there are no grounds to decline consents like Cloud Ocean Water Ltd’s for water bottling.
“Anyone can apply for consent, including overseas interests, and there are no grounds to ‘just say no’. Doing so would trigger a legal challenge, exposing ratepayers to potentially significant costs with no legal grounds.”