Protestors challenge NZ government over bottled water exports

Posted 17 March 2017

Bottled waterProtesters are asking the New Zealand government to end exports of bottled water from some of the country’s freshwater sources. 

A 15,000-signature petition calling for an end to bottled water exports was delivered to NZ Parliament this past Tuesday.

The petition was accepted outside Parliament House by Labour's Environment Spokesperson David Parker and Green Party Water Spokesperson Catherine Delahunty. 

Parker questioned the sustainability of the bottling of New Zealand’s freshwater for export.

“Our water, which is clean enough to bottle or drink without treatment, is a precious and scarce resource,” he said. 

"Water is a public good. If people are using a public good for private profit, then some of that should come back to the public.”

Some communities didn’t have the clean water to spare, said Jen Branje, the founder of protest group Bung the Bore. 

"Bottling plants come here and take our pure, deep groundwater for free. And while they're taking it, we get nothing,” Branje said. 

New Zealand Environment Minister Nick Smith said the issue was being exaggerated, and that the amount of water being exported was relatively small. 

Nine million litres of bottled water are exported each year, which is a small fraction of the trillions of litres of water in the country’s waterways, Smith said. 

But Parker denied Smith’s claims, saying they failed to distinguish pure, drinkable water from other sources. 

Green MP Catherine Delahunty called for greater protections for aquifers and demanded a price be put on water used for commercial purposes. 

"You want to make a profit out of it, you can pay for it," she said. 

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