Christchurch-based water bottling company snapped illegally taking over 10 million litres from an aquifer

A Christchurch water bottling operation has illegally pumped more than 10 million litres of water from an aquifier.

"Going against it's rules for consent, Chinese-owned Cloud Ocean Water had been taking water through its 33 metre bore without informing authorities, resulting in Environment Cantebury (ECan) temporarily closing down operations and serving an abatement notice last month, Stuff reports.

In December, Cloud Ocean Water was granted permission to extract around 1.5 billion litres a year at a plant on the old Kaputone wool scour in Belfast, which the company intends to bottle and sell overseas.

Recruitment for 200 staff needed for the $50 million plant were underway, before operations were called to a halt. 

The abatement notice was lifted on Friday, after the firm provided ECan with the much-needed verification certificates for the consent to be activated, along with water metering data.

Christchurch West Melton water zone manager Steve Firth said Cloud Ocean had now complied with the requirements, reports Stuff.

"The issue with the water data logger was a technical fault, however, there were two on-site flow meters which had continued to record the volume taken but were not connecting through to the data meter properly.

"As the two flow meters were working correctly, we know how much water was taken prior to the consent being activated.

"We are confident the other two flow meters were, and continue to be, working correctly, and that the fault is now fixed.

"However, we will continue to monitor Cloud Ocean on a regular basis to ensure compliance."

Data revealed the company took more than 10 million litres, amounting to a fraction of what it is allowed to extract under its consent.

It is unclear how long the firm was taking water without permission, but a spokesperson said it was either "disposed of or retained as part of the testing process".

Cloud Ocean Water has not yet started bottling water for sale and no water from the site has been exported, a spokesperson said.

The company is currently testing its production line as part of the commissioning of the plant, and a date for water production is yet to be set.

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