The call by Hastings deputy mayor Cynthia Bowers for the regional council to look at placing a moratorium on the granting of further water consents for bottling plants has merit.

This is not the first time this call has been made - regional councillor Peter Beaven raised it a while ago - but it would, I suspect, have widespread support.

Ms Bowers says a temporary embargo should be put in place until further research has been undertaken on the Heretaunga Plains aquifer.

I am not sure how easy it would be for the council to issue such a moratorium, but it is probably needed.

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From what I see the feeling out there - rightly or wrongly - is that our water should not be given away free for export to China.

Certainly many of our readers (and believe me I have read all the letters, texts and online comments) think that the council (ie: the ratepayers of Hawke's Bay) should be paid for any water sent offshore.

There are a number of arguments against this - the main one being that councils have no legal ability to charge for water, either by way of a royalty or levy.

But Ms Bowers is right when she says that we, as a community, should try harder to find a solution to this problem.

Don't get me wrong bottling plants being set up here and creating local jobs is a good thing, but if there is an opportunity for us as a region to directly make money, why not explore that.

The other counter argument is that if you are charging bottling plants for taking the water, why aren't you making the orchardists pay for the water they use?

The answer is quite simply, growing apples and other fruit adds value to the water and therefore is beneficial for and profitable to the region.

A moratorium would allow us time to look at the sustainability of the aquifer's water supply and to get around the legalities of charging for our water.

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Surely, finding out what is best for the province, environmentally and economically, should be the top priority.