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Aotearoa Water Action Update Spring 2021

Court of Appeal Hearing

AWA has appealed the High Court decision upholding Environment Canterbury’s decision to grant consents to two bottling companies to take millions of litres per day from Christchurch’s deepest aquifers.

We believe the process by which these consents were granted was illegal, and opens the door to the plundering of our water resources by the water bottling industry, putting at risk our future water security and undermining cultural and community rights in water. AWA also argued that Ecan should have had regard to the end use production of billions of plastic bottles, an argument that the High Court was reluctant to engage with, but which we think the Court of Appeal may be more comfortable with.

The first day in the Court of Appeal for our appeal hearing was on 17 August. We were very pleased with how the day went. The 3 judges seemed to understand our barrister's arguments well, and asked a lot of questions which showed they were interested in exploring them. Our barrister and the counsel for Ngāi Tūāhuriri (the Christchurch rūnanga which is supporting our position, on cultural grounds) presented the case excellently. We feel we couldn't have done any more to give us the best chance of overturning these consents.

Because of the nationwide lockdown that was imposed at midnight on 17 August, the Court determined that the case for Ecan and the water bottlers would be be heard on-line at the second day of hearings on Monday 23 August. 

Māori opposed to Christchurch water being bottled and exported seem to have made some headway at the second day of the hearing. ECan and the two water bottling companies faced repeated questions at the hearing about the way concerns of Ngāi Tūāhuriri Rūnanga were taken into account in a resource consent process.

Ngāi Tūāhuriri Rūnanga was not a party to the case but was allowed to make submissions at Aotearoa Water Action’s appeal against a High Court decision that confirmed the consents."

Our hearing concluded on the second day and our general feeling is that we made a strong case to overturn Judge Nation's decision against us in the High Court.

So now we wait for the judges decision... 
Photo by Jim Chipp

Pledge Me Fundraising Campaign

Over $30,000 Raised On Pledge Me in our Court of Appeal Campaign "Last Chance to Protect Our Water"
We asked for your help and the response was huge. People just like you got behind this important case and donations and pledges raised  over our $30,000 target! The support was amazing and we're excited to let you know that we've now been able to pay our barrister who argued our case in the Court of Appeal.

THANK YOU!
It is only because of people like you that this case has been heard at all so we want to say a HUGE thank you to you for your efforts to get behind the issue and the fight to protect our wai. You're AMAZING!

Push Pause on Water Bottling' - Petition Delivery

Hutt South MP Ginny Anderson accepted the call for the taps to be turned off on the water bottling industry.

Aotearoa Water Action member and Queenstown Lakes District councillor Niki Gladding presented Anderson with an 11,000-signature petition on Tuesday 17 August, calling on the government to prohibit new water bottling consents.

Gladding said: “We’re asking for a moratorium on new water bottling applications.

“We’re also asking for an inquiry into the effects of the industry and the ability of the regulatory and policy framework to manage those effects.”
She said a sizeable majority of councils has also agreed to work with the government to place a moratorium on applications for water bottling or bulk export.

“We’re looking forward to the government finally taking this issue seriously,” Gladding said. 

Once the petition is officially presented to the House, the Petitions Committee will decide on the 'next steps'
Photo by Jim Chipp

Three Waters Reform

As you may know, the Government recently announced a proposal to change the way three waters are provided across the country.  At the moment, these services are mostly provided by local councils, including Christchurch City Council (CCC).  

The proposed changes would remove responsibility for providing three waters services from 67 councils nationwide and place it under four independent water entities, which are expected to be set up by 2024. One of those entities would cover 21 South Island councils, including Christchurch.

CCC are currently involved in an eight-week engagement period until the end of September with the Government, to better understand the implications of reform for the Council and for residents, partner agencies and stakeholders.

This is a time set aside for councils to ask questions about the reform proposal and to provide feedback to the Government. As part of the feedback CCC provides as a council, they also want to provide early feedback from their community.

CCC has launched an online survey to help them gauge what is important to people when it comes to the delivery and management of drinking water, wastewater and stormwater services – the ‘three waters’. This will be open for feedback until Sunday 12th September.

AWA supports water services staying with Council and advocates for local control and is against “power grab” by Central Govt which could lead to  privatisation. We encourage as many of you as possible to complete this survey here 

Read Spokesperson and Queenstown Lakes District Councillor (QLDC) Niki Gladding's views on this: Centralising water services – who’s really calling the shots? 

Also Garry Moore, Tuesday Club organiser and ex CCC Mayor has a lot to say about the proposed Three Waters Reform: "Slowly it’s starting to be realized by people that the soft soaping by the Government advertising how they have a plan for water isn’t the real story." Read more here: 
Garry Writes on water, again

AWA is contemplating a nationwide "chalking campaign" in protest against the Three Water Reform and to support councils such as CCC and QLDC in their stand against the Government on this. We envisage chalking local Labour Party offices with protest slogans/logos and Council (not Regional Councils this time!) with supportive slogans/logos. Pumping Stations (water supply, waste water and storm water) could also be chalked.

To this end we invite you all to come up with slogans, logos or similar for promoting opposition, eg “3 Waters – keep it local!”. Just reply to this newsletter with your creation. If enough interest is generated we will create a Facebook Event and post them on the discussion page for people to use for the event. We may get further support in the action from groups such as Extinction Rebellion, Greenpeace, etc.
 
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