Bottling ban puts another squeeze on Coast water operations

New bans on controversial water bottling operations in Tweed rural areas have put a lid on further water mining operations straddling the Queensland-NSW border, giving a win to activists in a long fight against the bottling facilities and major beverage companies.

Jun 01, 2020, updated Jun 01, 2020
(Photo: noppadon-manadee - Unsplash)

(Photo: noppadon-manadee - Unsplash)

The NSW Government move follows the Queensland Government’s 12-month moratorium imposed in March that put the freeze on new groundwater bores at Mount Tamborine and Springbrook in the Gold Coast hinterland.

Water extraction activists have been locked in ongoing conflict with commercial water operators over groundwater in Queensland’s southeast and northern NSW, particularly as water continued to be extracted by commercial beverage companies while drought conditions bit hard in the region.

On the Gold Coast, bores supplying drinking water to Tamborine Mountain residents, schools and businesses ran dry later last year, prompting residents to step up their fight to stop local groundwater being taken to satisfy Australia’s thirst for bottled water.

The area provides water for three commercial water companies including Coca-Cola Amatil, Nu Pure and Neverfail spring water, sending around a combined 100 million litres a year for bottling.

Two operations continue to extract water at Springbrook, but Gold Coast Council blocked a third water extraction operation earlier this year.

Tweed Water Alliance spokesman Pat Miller said the Tweed ban was a win for the area.

“Bottling plants sucking bore water out and stuffing it into plastic bottles can no longer be done in the Tweed Shire.” Miller said.

Tweed Mayor Katie Milne said the win came after a long battle.

“Water extraction has been one of the most contentious issues we have seen in the council,” she said.

“It has been a very long and difficult chapter over many, many years and I’m sure the community will be thrilled with the news.”

Existing commercial water bottling operations, however, are still continuing in the Tweed Shire, Scenic Rim and Gold Coast council areas.

There are currently four operators in the Tweed, with one further operation that gained approval prior to the ban.

Latest figures show nearly one third of Australians buy bottled water every week, and the industry generates more than $700 million revenue annually.

The global market for bottled water is projected to reach US$307.6 billion by 2025, a new Global Bottled Water Industry report predicts.

This article is supported by the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas

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