Calls for bottled water levy ‘uninformed’ - Smith

  • 22/04/2016

Opposition party calls for a levy on bottled water exports are "uninformed and scientifically unsound", says Environment Minister Nick Smith.

The Greens and NZ First say companies pay nothing for the water and make millions from selling it overseas.

They want the government to claim a percentage of the profits or charge a levy for the water when it’s extracted.

NZ First leader Winston Peters say it's the same as giving away coal or oil.

The Greens say 74 companies are in the market and more are in the pipeline, they want a moratorium on consents.

Dr Smith says they've got it wrong.

"New Zealand has 500 trillion litres of fresh water each year flowing through our lakes, rivers and aquifers," he said.

"We extract only two per cent of that for human purposes - the total water extracted for bottled water is only 0.004 percent of the resource."

Dr Smith says it's wrong to target the bottled water industry.

"Each litre of milk takes about 400 litres of fresh water to produce and if the export market is prepared to pay a good price for bottled water, it may be a more efficient and productive use of the resource."

He says it would be difficult to justify a charge on bottled water but not on a bottled product made with minimal additives of juice concentrate.

"There's no case for the bottled water industry to be treated any differently from the thousands of other water users."