Ashburton residents are angry they're being left in the dark by the council, which is giving away consent to tap into their water.

The Ashburton District Council is in the process of selling 10 hectares on its business estate, with the interested buyer wanting to start a water bottling plant.

The sale comes with a consent to take 45 litres of water per second from the local aquifers.

Concerned resident Jennifer Branje said the council has done the sale under a veil of secrecy, and there's been no consultation with the public or iwi.

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She said the aquifers in the area are already over-committed, with water levels in the area dropping.