14 Mar 2017

Petition to stop water exports put to MPs

8:55 pm on 14 March 2017

Water rights campaigners calling for a moratorium on exporting drinking water are today taking their fight to Parliament as well as holding rallies in 21 towns across the country.

The Bung the Bore campaign has presented a 15,000-signature petition to opposition MPs, calling for a moratorium on water exports.

Campaigners want a ban on drinking water exports until further protections are put in place. Photo: RNZ / Jane Patterson

The Bung the Bore campaign began when the Ashburton District Council tried to sell land with a water consent to a bottled water company.

The sale did not go through, and the group today presented a 15,000 signature petition aimed at halting the exports to opposition MPs at Parliament.

They were calling for a moratorium until it was made compulsory for all resource consent applications to take water for bottling to be publicly notified.

The campaigners were also opposed to industrial scale dairy farming, which they said was resulting in the closing of popular swimming spots due to contamination.

Organiser Jen Branje told Morning Report it was about safeguarding resource for future generations.

"We're asking for a moratorium until the water can be protected in a manner that it cannot continue to be extracted and it's not a free-for-all on New Zealand water resources."

She said New Zealand's aquifers were becoming depleted by irrigation and its rivers were becoming degraded.

Environment Minister Nick Smith said the water taken from aquifers for bottling represented a tiny fraction of the total amount extracted for tap water and irrigation.