Hundreds protest against Ashburton water sale

Hundreds protest against Ashburton water sale

 Around 200 people are protesting against the sale of water in Ashburton this morning.

The march dubbed ‘Bung the Bore’ started at the Ashburton Domain and ended outside the council offices.

Protestors say they’re not convinced the sale will bring meaningful jobs to the community.

Hundreds protest against Ashburton water sale

Organiser Jen Branje believes a foreign company is in the background of a council land sale with rights to extract billions of litres of pure local water.

"There's so much stuff going on here that you just follow the trail, and the further down the trail you go, the more rubbish you find."

Green Party water spokesperson Catherine Delahunty will be speaking at the rally and says locals are angry.

But she also believes it's becoming a nationwide issue and the Government needs to wake up to the harm being caused.

"I'm getting calls from all across the country about bottling companies making large amounts of money from a natural resource."

Hundreds protest against Ashburton water sale

Ashburton District Council is in the process of selling land to buyers interested in setting up a water-bottling plant.

The land is part of the Ashburton Business Estate and the 10 hectares being sold, called Lot 9, has an existing consent for extracting water.

The consent allows more than 1.4 billion litres of water to be extracted annually, with just under 4000 cubic metres taken per day. The council was granted this consent from Environment Canterbury (ECan) in 2011.

The council won't name the company involved, citing commercial sensitivity but says the sale wouldn’t have any effect on the town water supply or other irrigators.

The landowner has consent to take 45 litres a second from the aquifer underneath which must be replenished at a rate of 60 litres a second from Ashburton's stock water system.

Confirmation of the sale is expected in June this year.