Christchurch City Council may ask Environment Canterbury to change its approach to how it deals with water take consents.
Council staff have prepared a report which recommends the Council ask the regional council to review aspects of its Land and Water Regional Plan (LWRP) to address concerns about the impact of commercial water bottling operations.
Under the LWRP the Christchurch-West Melton groundwater protection zone is currently treated as a single water body even though it contains several distinct aquifers at varying depths.
Because the aquifers are treated as a single water body, a water bottling company with consent to take water from a shallow bore can transfer its take to a deeper bore - provided its overall take is not increasing - by applying for a variation to its existing consent. It does not need to apply for a new consent.
This is the route that bottling company Cloud Ocean Water has taken with its consent application.
If the aquifers were treated as individual water bodies under the LWRP, then a new consent would be required for a new well in a different aquifer.
“If this were the case under the LWRP, than a water permit to take groundwater from a deeper bore would need to be considered as a new consent, rather than a variation to an existing consent,’’ the report, prepared for next week’s Council meeting, says.
“Given that the LWRP does not permit new water take consents other than for group or community water supply, this would mean that new consumptive water takes (e.g. for water bottling) would not be allowed.
The report recommends the Council request Environment Canterbury review the LWRP to have aquifers considered as individual water bodies with urgency.