Garner loses his bottle

It has to be one of Prime Minister John Key’s most mocked and meaningless phrases – that “no-one owns the water”.

What complete drivel – no one may own it – but a select few multi-national companies are making billions from it.

We’re being screwed. More on that shortly.

I certainly pay for the water I use. It’s not free at all.  [ Whaleoil debunked this already – sigh ]

Every month I get a bill for my water usage in my Auckland home from Watercare, which is a council-run organisation.

Last month’s bill, for an average daily use of 700 litres, came to $190.

That was a big month for us. This is not just a fixed charge for reticulation, this is a charge for how much water we use.

In Wellington I was never charged. No charge in Christchurch either. It’s all covered as part of your rates.

Which brings me to all of us being screwed.

Why should I be paying for a resource that we effectively give away to foreign companies (allowing them to make a massive profit?)

For a start we should be bottling it ourselves. But of course we’re not. We missed that boat. We’ve handed the water over to these creative and smart multi-nationals to rape our resource. And they’re good at it.

Companies from America, China, Japan and Latvia all bottle our water here – effectively for free – and sell it to the world.

We should probably be applauding these companies for their vision and foresight. But we haven’t exactly stood in their way.

Chinese company Oravida paid just $526 last year for a resource consent to draw up to 400,000 litres of water a day from the Otakiri aquifer in the Bay of Plenty.

The company can take 146 million litres a year until 2026.

The local council confirmed this week that Oravida has paid just $1503 for the consents since 1992.

It’s happening in Ashburton too but it’s all top secret – which is an insult to locals.

A company has paid $8 million for a block of former public land and gets a 30-year resource consent to draw 40 billion litres of pure artesian water.

They will make hundreds of millions of dollars – no wonder locals feel like they are increasingly becoming ‘tenants in their own country’.

Coca-Cola – which has annual revenues of more than $60 billion – takes water from a pure spring near Putaruru in the Waikato for its Pump brand.

They pay next to nothing while I pay close to $5 for a small bottle of it every time I go to a sports event.

We are mugs for allowing this. It’s like watching your house being robbed and doing nothing about it.

NZ First leader Winston Peters is right – we need to, at least, charge a royalty and sort this out. Labour wants to charge for it too – and force New Zealand companies and dairy farmers to pay for their use of it.

There are 74 bottling plants in New Zealand. The very few are making billions out of us.

So it’s time to change the law and demand a better deal.

As I explained the other day, people are oversimplifying this, and Garner falls into the same trap.  However, perhaps councils should charge more for consents.  That’s a whole different arguments.

But as Nick Smith pointed out, doing so, you’re going to find yourself in deep trouble when you apply these consistently across industry, especially when a litre of milk takes 400 litres of water to produce (90% for irrigation).

Just as well it’s the latest “outrage du jour“, because this already has received more attention than it deserves.

Media Party faithful Garner just picks up the baton from Labour by making this about evil corporates, like ORAVIDA and COCA-COLA, and somehow, let’s try a smear, National.  Somehow.


– Duncan Garner, Stuff

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.