Aotearoa Water Action (AWA) is elated at Christchurch City Council’s (CCC) decision to grant it $50,000 towards legal costs. AWA is seeking a judicial review of Environment Canterbury’s decision-making process under the Resource Management Act for two resource consents issued to commercial water bottling companies, Cloud Ocean Water Limited and Rapaki Natural Resources Limited.

Last year Ecan granted Cloud Ocean a variation to its consent to take water from a deeper bore.  The application was not notified and the decision could affect the Christchurch City Council’s bore and the council’s ability to draw more water in the future.

“It just goes to show that this Council is looking to the future, understands the importance of protecting Christchurch’s water for its people and is prepared to work hard to achieve that protection.  We’re blown away. We’re just so grateful to them for this decision,” says co convenor of AWA Peter Richardson.

AWA is also congratulating CCC on a number of related decisions this week including: requesting staff to start work to see if a Water Conservation Order would work to preserve the quality and quantity of the water in the deep aquifers beneath the city and engaging with ECan on an urgent plan change to establish a more clearly defined groundwater allocation regime for the fully allocated Christchurch West-Melton groundwater zone.

“We hope that through working with the City Council, ECan will finally recognise its ability to preferentially allocate water to sustainable activities that meet the needs of communities,” says Richardson. “Water is scarce – allocating water on a first come first served basis and allowing companies to change the purpose of transferred consents is no longer sustainable management.”

AWA says CCC is setting a new benchmark for City and District Councils’ involvement in water protection but that other Councils are still prioritising economic gain above water protection. The group is currently working alongside Sustainable Otakiri, a group having to crowdfund its appeal against bottler Cresswell NZ and the Whakatane District Council (WDC).  Richardson says that unlike CCC, WDC has actively supported Cresswell’s investment, despite the company’s bore being very close to one of WDC’s own bores.

“We hope other city councils start to follow Christchurch City Council’s example in pushing hard for sustainable allocation and the protection of their water.  In the meantime, we hope the country will get behind Sustainable Otakiri’s Love Our Wai campaign.”