Ashburton residents demand council ditch water bottling plan

Ashburton residents have gathered wide support in their fight against council plans to allow billions of litres of local water to be bottled and sold overseas.

The Ashburton Council wants to allow up to 45 litres of water a second to be pumped out for commercial use. Source: 1 NEWS

Today, from a district that has a population of around 33,000, came a petition of more than 40,000 signatures.

The petition is Ashburton residents' latest weapon against a controversial council deal to sell "Lot 9", along with a consent that allows 45 litres of water to be pumped every second until 2046.

"Why on earth would we give 40 billion away if we haven't even got enough for ourselves," said Jen Branje of the group "Bung the Bore". 

The residents hammered home their message direct to council, with a packed public gallery of protesters.

"With groundwater at a 66-year low gifting our resources for the purpose of bottling is an ill-considered proposal," said Ms Branje.

The mayor, Angus McKay, listened but seems unmoved, saying: "It concerns me that people are upset about it. It also concerns me that there are people wanting jobs in this district."

He claims the buyer, NZ Pure Blue, says the water bottling project will provide 100 jobs.

But a suggestion of jobs isn't enough to sweeten the deal for Ms Branje, who's threatening a judicial review of the consent and has given the council until July 30 to change its mind, an ultimatum, that earned her an ovation at today's meeting.