Review of bottled water extraction welcomed by industry
A review into the impacts of the bottled water industry on groundwater sources in the Northern Rivers, which has received industry support, has been launched by the government.
Announced by Minister for Regional Water Niall Blair, the NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer will provide advice on the sustainable groundwater extraction limits in the Northern Rivers region of NSW, as well as advice on whether the current or proposed groundwater monitoring bores are sufficient.
While Blair stated he was confident in the sustainability of the bottled water industry, some members of the community expressed concerns which prompted the investigation. He said: “Austin Curtin, Ben Franklin and Thomas George have made representations to me on behalf of their constituents and on that basis I’m happy to commission independent expert advice.
“Water is a finite resource and we are completing this review to make sure that water remains available into the future in the Northern Rivers catchment for all purposes including stock and domestic users and for groundwater dependent ecosystems.”
The Natural Resources Access Regulator (NRAR), the independent water compliance authority, is auditing four water extraction operators in the Tweed catchment. NRAR has required three plant operators to install accredited water meters on each of their extraction bores by early next year, while the fourth plant was found to have adequate meters on individual extraction bores.
The Australasian Bottled Water Institute (ABWI), the Australian Beverages Council’s water division, welcomed the review and said it expects it to be thorough and fair.
Geoff Parker, Chief Executive Officer of Australian Beverages Council, said: “We are confident that the Chief Scientist will find that the bottled water industry responsibly manages groundwater sources across NSW, as all ABWI-certified source owners are required to ensure the ongoing sustainability of their water sources.”
The bottled water industry only uses 0.1% of all groundwater extracted across the country, with other agricultural uses comprising the vast majority of all water used.
“It is crucial that the review considers the minimal environmental impact of water extraction by our industry while considering the positive economic contribution the industry makes to communities across Australia,” Parker continued.
The Australian Beverages Council said it will make full representations to the Chief Scientist & Engineer, who is expected to release an initial report by early February 2019 and a final report in mid-2019.
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