Construction is under way to convert an Awatoto industrial building into a bottling plant on a site where the owners have permission to extract more than 400 million litres of underground water a year.

One Pure International Group was granted resource consent in December to develop the automated bottling plant in the 4800sq m building beside SH2 south of Napier.

The company has had consent since 2013, when it bought the property, to extract up to 7.8 million litres of water a week from a bore on the site - or up to 405.6 million litres a year.

A spokesman said yesterday that the company did not plan to use its full water take allocation and the location of its bore meant any water not pumped out of the underground aquifer simply flowed out to sea.

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"The amount of water that we will take is minimal to what's available," he said.

The company hoped to have the bottling plant operational by August.

In its application to Napier City Council to build the plant, One Pure International Group said it would be used to fill, package, pack and dispatch into shipping containers, up to 32,000 bottles of water per hour, and would operate up to 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

During its peak production day shift, 14 staff would work at the plant, the application said.

The One Pure mineral water brand is sold in China and a number of upmarket New Zealand restaurants. The company had plans to expand sales into other international markets.

Last year local hapu called for a moratorium on water extraction from the Heretaunga aquifer which they said was being put under pressure from new water-bottling businesses.

They wanted the moratorium put in place until science and engineering data could prove that issuing further consents would not impact adversely on the existing economy, communities, marae and households.

Another company, Elwood Rd Holdings, has consent to take up to 364 million litres of water a year and reportedly plans to spend $20 million building a bottling plant that would employ up to 80 staff.

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One Pure's website says after searching for a New Zealand supply source, it discovered Hawke's Bay's "network of deep aquifers" provided water with purity and mineral content which is "astonishing".