Niki Gladding: Should New Zealand be bottling our water and sending it overseas?

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Manage episode 269005846 series 1126765
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Niki says that most New Zealanders across a whole range of political opinions think that this is a significant problem and that we actually do not have enough clean drinking water in this country.

This statement is correct - in clean green NZ (hold your nose) she says there is an actual lack of good quality drinking water - and that local councils are having difficulty in providing fresh water for their communities. Plus, there is the added issue around plastic waste and these plants produce billions of plastic bottles over the lifetime of their operations.

She says it is a huge issue for everyone across the country.

That there is a range of issues:

Councils across NZ don't have a lot of money to remedy this situation.

A lot of Council water bores are from shallow groundwater. To get higher quality water you have to drill deeper and that is an extra cost.

Nitrates, detrimental to health, that have dissolved in the water - cannot be filtered out.

Some Councils take water closer to the surface and treat it and the condition of the surface water determines the treatment it requires. This is a growing issue especially in Canterbury into Christchurch - but the big issue is nitrates in shallow groundwater - and that these cannot be treated. This is an increasing looming issue right across New Zealand.

Putting chlorine in the water supply to deal with viral bacteria etc is one thing but dealing with nitrates is a far more complex challenge. Being due to intensive farming over decades.

That we will have nitrates passing down through the soil and they will continue like this for decades - so it is a problem that we cannot get rid of quickly.

Water Going Off Shore.

Niki says her concern is that water bottlers are coming into NZ and taking away our very best water, our cleanest water, our deepest water. Thus local communities are having to fork out a lot of money to 'treat' their water and potentially not be able to get healthy, clean, nitrate free water. Especially into the future and she says we have to think of the future because these bottling companies are being granted 'consents' for 30 years (because they want continuity of supply) as they are putting in massive infrastructure and they need that security - but it appears that no one is looking ahead 30 years - to the state of the groundwater, community supply or basically anything at the moment and essentially there are no controls and no thinking of future generations ...

Tim asked - who are making these decisions in NZ? Who is allowing these water agreements to happen - especially when the community is kept in the dark?

She says it is an interesting/complicated state of affairs, we have quite a few small water bottling plants and they do not produce a lot at the moment - but we are now having some larger companies coming into NZ. Listen - this gets interesting ...

These corporations have been coming into NZ and talking with Government Ministers directly, such as NZ Trade and Enterprise - and supporting NZers who want to sell their land to overseas investors who want to bottle water and these Govt representatives have acknowledged doing this through their emails.

That NZ Trade and Enterprise - supports the sale of land. It has supported about 8 overseas enterprises over the years.

The NZ Taxpayer is helping finance these industries

It is supporting 6 at the moment and the NZ tax payers are actually supporting water bottling companies (Just like the Film Industry is supported by NZ tax payer dollars)

Some overseas companies do need Overseas Investment Office consent.

Listen how there’s a number of tiers - with high end solicitors being engaged at the top by the overseas entities and the cash strapped communities and Councils at the bottom.

At present:

That Aotearoa Water Authority is in court with a Creswell Company at the moment.

Plus Otakiri, water bottling is taking 1.1million cubic meters from a deep water aquifer per year near Whakatane. Link. www.Loveandcare.nz

That the NZTE brought the Chairman out to NZ so as to help him find the water he was wanting ...

So Niki suggests we need an entire country wide review to make everything transparent.

The NZTE's job is to help NZ businesses to Grow bigger, better, faster ... but it can also be a NZ business that can be ultimately owned by a foreign company. With the case of Cresswell NZ that wants to run the Whakatane venture as well as Cloud Ocean Water which is a NZ company which has just been taken to court by AWA Aotearoa Water Action, but ultimately it is overseas owned as well.

However recently (possibly due to NZ Community pushback) the NZAT have given up actively promoting water bottling to foreign investors. But, they will help a NZ land owner with a large water consent - a water permit - to sell their land to a foreign investor.

Who are these companies? There are Australian Companies that are ultimately owned in Japan. That is Frucor Suntory See: www.Frucorsuntory.com/brands-nz

But the big ones Aotearoa Water Action are battling in court are from China.

Tim asks - shouldn't NZers need to know who is taking our drinking water offshore? Niki says it is more than this. It’s to see what impacts are on our aquifers, future supplies, what about the plastic - what are the recycling facilities overseas? Because, NZ water is now packaged in plastic to go overseas. Are we basically exporting a plastic tsunami overseas?

The amount of NZ drinking water that leaves this country annually is a tricky one she says. In 2017, 28 million litres were being exported every year. In 2017 domestic use was about 158 million litres (packaged in plastic bottles)

Last year 118 million litres was exported.(See TVNZ) they did a documentary.

Local Push Back

Some years ago, Ashburton in the South Island was going to have a large water bottling venture that essentially was going to sell some land called Lot 9, which had a large 'water permit' attached to it that gave ‘free’ access to huge amounts of water - to an overseas entity, but when people heard about this there was such a 'huge organised and fired up pushback from both the local and the NZ community that it was not allowed to come into being.

Lack of Local and Central Government Oversight.

Listen - Councils have no duty of care to put out to the community an expression of interest by an overseas company wanting to buy land and ultimately a water source. Thus commercial undertakings of NZ strategic interests have yet to be set in Law to make sure that we do not lose valuable resources due to the public not knowing what is being bought and sold. There is no obligation by the Councils in NZ to let the Community know about important issues such as this.

Note that if you have a water right to the land you buy and there is a huge aquifer underneath - there is no Law in NZ stating that you cannot suck it dry! There is no limit on the volume taken out. (Thanks to the NZ Government still remaining conscious)

Water is part of the 'commons' and Councils and Government can not charge for it, that can only charge for the council infrastructure to pipe it from place to place. Listen - Niki is a very good communicator.

Strategically the water bottlers are looking at aquifers close to ports. Like Cresswell NZ Ltd. Especially in Whakatane in the Bay of Plenty and there are 3 water bottling plants within a two kilometre radius. Also the Whakatane Council was actively promoting the bottling industry and used rate payer funds on marketing the good value of water bottling.

Maori Perspective.

Tim asks are Maori and Iwi not upset? She says there are some Maori involved in bottling. One in Murupara was slated to start but it was abandoned because the iwi found that they were not going to have control of the water consent.

We have yet not grappled with Maori rights over fresh water as the sovereignty issue naturally has to be addressed.

Will we have to take our water, back from the company if our need in the next 30 years become urgent? What is the deal?

OverseasTrade Agreements

Trade Agreements that the NZ Government have signed. What are the sticking points if we want to break such deals? What is the punishment etc if we renege on a Trade Agreement?

The cultural side is also important. Maori are deeply embedded in Papatuanku - mother earth - they see rivers as living entities they are an extension of the Wairua - just like the Whanganui River has living entity status sanctified by the NZ Government and thus many Maori are offended in the gross commercialisation of what they see as sacred and an extension of their tribal land and indeed the tribe itself.

Listen .... the Government is in some ways boxed in due to Trade Agreements - as well as land use - and they were not conscious further back in time to classify water and give it a special status in its own right. The Government and Councils do not grok rivers and land from a holistic perspective and due to linear thinking, were incapable of seeing the big picture - that in Maoris eyes, we are dealing with a living being and water for want of a better expression is an entity within Papatuanuku and is akin to 'her' life blood.

Other Subjects covered.

Canterbury water allocation for dairy farms - after a certain level of use is reached - then farmers need to then buy it. Via in this case a company called Hydro Trader.

If you are in Canterbury and have a water consent to pump out water on your land. It keeps your land value high - even if you do not utilise it.

34 Billion Litres Per Year.

There is 34 billion litres of water per year that has been consented - but at present only 118 million liters are being bottled so the bottlers are still only doing millions .... just know that the water bottle industry in NZ is according to Niki - is not regulated. That there are no specific rules around water bottling - (thank you NZ Parliamentarians.)

They are not classified in the RMA Resource Management Act or in the Policy statement for Freshwater Management -

We can now see how ratepayers become the meat in the sandwich.

A Royal Commission Required.

We in NZ need a Royal Commission to sort this out. But, not just by industry and lawyers - but also land holders, ecologists, water specialists and health professionals too.

Niki says we need to look at it from a holistic standpoint. This is a word and a concept, though first used 100 years ago by ex Prime Minister of South Africa Jan Smuts - it is still too intellectually taxing for politicians of today.

At present we are bottling water and shipping all these plastic bottles overseas - and leave this plastic for some other nation to clean up. We export our environmental costs, under the pretext that what we are selling is pure water - pumped out of the ground for free!

Plastic bottles - in sun - lot's of micro plastics - children drinking from these bottles - health challenges etc

Niki says she doesn't want to see NZ farms dotted with water bottling plants.

Speaks out against privatisation of water - it has to remain public owned.

There is presently a court case against Cloud Ocean Water, who are extracting here in NZ.

This is a very important interview for all NZers - our adult bodies are composed of about 70& water, babies about 85% water. We need the best and highest purity for us all

We have to find out how land owners can obtain water consents and what is the process. That once a plot of land has a water consent - it has it for life?

Who is the person/ organisation who gives this consent to the landowner?

Can this consent be overridden?

How much does a water consent cost, if any?

https://www.aotearoawateraction.org.nz/

https://www.facebook.com/aotearoawateraction/

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