Water bottle battle

by Mike Isle

On-going protests targeting water bottling and drinking water issues have prompted Environment Canterbury to come out swinging hard as it responds to what it describes as untruths in the debate.

While rightly held to account for addressing the region’s water issues, Environment Canterbury and the public can do without the continued untruths in the ongoing Christchurch water debate, council chair Steve Lowndes said.

Lowndes said he applauded the desire to protect Canterbury water for the use of current and future generations. However, he also said while there were very real challenges in managing the region’s freshwater, the heat of the debate was obscuring some key facts and scaremongering was impacting on the council’s water management role and public confidence in it.

“Frankly, Environment Canterbury is held to account for enough crap in our water without some of the nonsense we are hearing in the water bottling debate.

“There is absolutely no truth in any claim that Environment Canterbury has granted consent for a plastic bottle facility, and we have no reason to be involved in such a venture.

“There is also no connection with current Christchurch water restrictions or chlorination (temporarily required due to city council infrastructure works) and the quality of aquifer water. Water bottling is also entirely separate.

“In the interests of a proper debate on the real issues, I encourage those who use such blatant untruths to express no confidence in Environment Canterbury and the work that we do, to be properly informed first.

“We’re happy to talk anytime to clarify these issues.

“Our role is to protect the quality and supply of water sources. Territorial authorities have a role in delivering that water to communities. It’s not exactly correct to think of water as limited supply, and the Christchurch aquifers as a tank which will eventually empty.

“Christchurch’s water supply is well understood by scientists, and we are committed to protecting this precious resource from any potential future overuse or contamination.

“Contrary to the scaremongers claiming we are merrily giving water away and limiting future supply, it is ECan that has implemented the very strict rules protecting the allocation of Christchurch water and the quality of it.

“Only the Christchurch City Council can apply for more, and then only for community use.”

“Fortunately there is enough water and ECan and many people in the community are working hard to protect it.

“It’s great that people are passionate about it, but please stick to the facts and feel incredibly lucky that we live in a part of the world where fresh water is plentiful, and that well established and effective measures are in place to keep it that way.”