Campaigners in the Eastern Bay of Plenty are appealing for locals to make their submissions against a potential water bottling operation in the region.
Save our Water Otakiri spokesperson, Maureen Fraser says locals need to stand against it.
“The water bottling industry is flawed and New Zealanders need to stand against it. Bottling New Zealand’s pure artesian groundwater, for nothing, and producing an obscene amount of waste is not acceptable.”
The call comes as Chinese owned company Nongfu, trading as Creswell Enterprises in New Zealand, has applied to the Bay of Plenty Regional Council to expand Otakiri Springs’ water-bottling operation from two million to 580 million litres per year.
Save our Water Otakiri is questioning whether water allocations should be made by the Regional Council based on computer-based aquifer modelling, which has led to over allocation in Havelock North, Rakaia and Gisborne.
Otakiri Springs’ proposed new production line will fill 154,000 bottles per hour, 24 hours per day 365 days per year.
“This level of production equates to over 3.5m bottles per day or 1.35b bottles each year,” says Maureen.
“Even if the company makes just one cent per bottle, it will make an obscene profit - $1.35b dollars per year - from New Zealand’s free natural resource,” she adds.
According to Nongfu’s promotional material, most of its product will be shipped to China. China does not currently recycle plastic due to a worldwide waste-plastic glut.
Nongfu also proposes discharging storm water and treated waste water into local drains. Treated waste-water will include traces of Nitric Acid, Hydrochloric Acid (as an alternate to Nitric Acid), Peracetic Acid, Sodium Hypochlorite, Sodium Bisulphate and Sodium Hydroxide.
The company also wants to undertake various activities within the Tarawera River stop bank zone, such as installing a filtration zone, road and swale; these could undermine stopbank function, which causes great concern to residents affected by the recent Edgecumbe floods.
Maureen says the company’s proposed storm water holding pond is half the size it should be.
“During heavy rainfall events, site and building run-off and wastewater will fill local drains and ultimately enter the Tarawera Western Drain, Awaiti Drain and Omeheu Canals, which flooded nearby properties in the April 6 event last year.”
She says the community considers the company’s proposed activities are unacceptable given the increased risk of flooding and drought on The Plains.
“Climate change experts predict more extreme heavy rainfall and drought events will occur in the Bay of Plenty.
“Our early summer drought is likely to happen more often and for longer – we’ll be crying out for good quality drinking, stock and irrigation water yet we are polluting our surface water and giving away safe water to a foreign-owned company. It defies good sense.”
The company gained support locally from some iwi, Whakatane Mayor Tony Bonne and Whakatane District Council management based on provision of 50 new jobs.
However, Business and Economic Research Limited, which wrote the report predicting the 50 jobs, also predicted some 200 jobs for the Blue Springs water bottling plant near Putaruru; South Waikato District Council Staff research found that the actual number of new jobs would be just eight.
“This benefit is a drop in the ocean compared with the environmental and social harm associated with this activity.”
Today at 5pm marks the final date for submissions on the proposed expansion of Otakiri Springs water bottling plant by Chinese owned company Nongfu (Creswell Enterprises).
Submission forms can be accessed on the Bay of Plenty Regional Council website under ‘Notified Consents’.