Designer's sprinkler protest sends message to council

By Victoria White -
7 comments
David and Linda Trubridge have protested against water bottling by keeping their sprinkler running despite water restrictions. Photo: Warren Buckland.
David and Linda Trubridge have protested against water bottling by keeping their sprinkler running despite water restrictions. Photo: Warren Buckland.

While a sprinkler ban has been enforced across Hastings, it is hoped one left running in David Trubridge's backyard will send a message to local, and central governments.

"Yes I am being wasteful today, but it's thinking ahead to tomorrow," the well-known artist and designer said.

Last week the Hastings District Council asked residents to conserve water as record high use put a strain on the pumping system for the Hastings network.

Mr Trubridge ran his sprinkler over the weekend despite this to make a point about water bottling, heighten awareness, and create "pressure to try and stop it".

The Havelock North resident outlined this in a Facebook post on Sunday night, writing: "you, the Council, have got some gall to expect me to conserve water when you are giving our water to private enterprise who are putting unlimited amounts into plastic bottles and then selling it back to us, or whoever".

"This is outrageous."

His sprinkler would remain in use until a number of stipulations were met - including that bottlers would pay for extracted water, with the money used to cover the increased cost of local water purification, he wrote.

Currently, New Zealand law does not allow regional councils to charge for water.

He also wanted to ensure extraction rights were not "freely given to every company that asks", and that in times of water restrictions no bottling was allowed, as "locals have first rights not business greed".

Mr Trubridge's message has been heard loud and clear - with an outpouring of support for his post which had garnered more than a thousand "likes" and been shared more than a thousand times as of last night.

"To get that many shares overnight in Hawke's Bay shows people are really concerned about this, this is a big issue which people do not like," he said.

He has attracted criticism from those pointing out the current water restriction was due to issues with the water system - rather than supply.

Mr Trubridge noted when such restrictions were in place, they did not apply to water bottling companies.

The artist said he had been careful not to refer to a specific council in his status, as the district, and Hawke's Bay Regional Council were "both implicit in this". Although the sprinkler ban was issued by the district council, resource consents for water bottling purposes are issued by the regional council.

Hastings mayor Lawrence Yule said although he accepted Mr Trubridge was trying to make a point, as mayor he was charged with ensuring the people of Hastings had enough water.

He did cite a GNS report released by the council on Friday, which showed the level of abstraction could influence the Heretaunga aquifer, in regard to younger water being found within it.

He said a "fundamental re-think" of the Heretaunga aquifer, and how its resource was used was needed - which would be addressed in the collaborative TANK process.

An HBRC spokesman said it was "not our place" to speculate on Mr Trubridge's choice of action.

Ten consents have been issued by HBRC between 2007 and July this year. Since January last year more than half of them were either newly issued, or altered to add, or increase water bottling production.

The council have said under the Resource Management Act they cannot choose what activities are granted consents.

While Mr Trubridge initially stated his sprinkler would run until his conditions were met, yesterday he said he felt his point had been made, and was conscious of not putting extra strain on the system.

"This is a short term hurt for a long term gain. I'm prepared to do that, to waste a little bit of water now in the long term to stop this water bottling nonsense or at least reduce it down to a reasonable proportion."

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