25 Aug 2018

Controversial water-bottling company has council consent halted

2:47 pm on 25 August 2018

A Canterbury water bottling company has been forced to stop taking groundwater after the regional council learned it had breached its consent conditions.

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Photo: 123RF

In December last year Environment Canterbury (ECan) gave Cloud Ocean Water consent to take up to 4.32 million litres a day from a 33-metre deep bore in Belfast.

The company was supposed to notify the council once it started its operations and was also required to tell the council how much water it was taking.

But it did not do this.

ECan has now issued it with an abatement notice which means it must stop taking water until all conditions are met.

Nick Daniels, ECan senior operations manager, said it was "unacceptable".

The water-bottling company's consent has faced staunch opposition from locals.

In March, Aotearoa Water Action filed legal proceedings to challenge the resource consents.

Mr Daniels said Cloud Ocean Water could use its consent while the matter was before the courts - but only if it met the conditions.

In April a petition signed by 114,000 people was presented to the Canterbury Regional Council calling on its, and another company's - Rapaki Natural Resources - consents to be revoked.

The consents for both companies were initially issued 20 years ago for industrial use of the water at wool scouring plants, and had not been used in about a decade.

Cloud Ocean Water was also investigated by the Christchurch City Council last month after reports relating to worker safety.

However, the council inspector found no evidence to support the claims.

Water bottling consents make up 0.007 percent of all water take consents in Canterbury.

A spokesperson for Cloud Ocean Water said it was a new business and the company was making a $50 million investment in Belfast and creating 200 new jobs for the region.

"We are in the process of commissioning the plant and working with ECan and authorities to resolve any teething issues with as they arise."