The Ashburton District Council has decided not to sell the Lot 9 water consent:
The ditching of a deal to set up a water bottling plant in Canterbury has been hailed "a win for the Ashburton community".
The Ashburton District Council has backed out of negotiations with NZ Pure Blue to sell Lot 9 of its business estate, which came with resource consent to extract billions of litres of water from aquifers beneath the town.
Mayor Angus McKay said the potential purchaser failed to tell the council "how they intended to run a water bottling plant from the site".
"In particular, we wanted confirmation that the plant would be using bottles not water bladders ... [this] has given us enough cause for concern to cancel the Sale and Purchase Agreement," he said.
Good. While bottled water is one of the highest value uses we can have for this precious national resource, allowing someone to buy a $233 million annual revenue stream for a mere $500 was simple plunder. And letting them do it at a time when local residents are facing water restrictions, so they can suck the water out and send it (and any economic benefits from bottling it) overseas added insult to injury. Ashburton District Council has done the right thing here. Now they need to make sure it can't happen again.
As for how to do that, its simple: we charge royalties for oil. We charge royalties for gas. We should charge them for water, so that local communities and iwi actually benefit from its use. And until that happens, we shouldn't let the thieves and plunderers take any more of it.