Fonterra scrambles to get water to Christchurch

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 25th February 2011

New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra has installed five large milk vats in Christchurch, which will be filled with fresh water by the company’s tankers, for use while the city’s earthquake-shattered water infrastructure is repaired.

CEO Andrew Ferrier says the vats will be installed in locations around the city as recommended by Civil Defence.

“Having these vats will give more people access to the water they desperately need. We will have a tanker on stand-by to re-fill the vats as the water gets taken,” he said. “We’ve already supplied over 400,000 litres of water and we’re working with Civil Defence to get more to people in need as quickly as possible.

The company’s existing dairy transport infrastructure puts them in the perfect position to assist in supplying clean drinking water.

“We’re filling up large containers used to transport milk by rail; these can hold 21,000 litres each. We’re dropping them at the school centres in line with Civil Defence directions,” said Ferrier. “We’ve got an additional 22 of these containers around the South Island and our people on the ground are currently co-ordinating with Civil Defence to get these to communities in Christchurch as quickly as possible.

“We’re continuing to do everything we can to help give some relief to the people in Christchurch. As long as the need is there we’ll do all we can to meet it,” said Ferrier.

Ferrier said Fonterra would also be delivering UHT milk and bottled water to relief centres in Christchurch as needed.

In addition to supplying water, Fonterra has donated NZ $1 million to the Red Cross’s Christchurch Earthquake Appeal, and launched its own Fonterra Earthquake Relief Fund.

“We have also launched a Fonterra Earthquake Relief Fund to enable our 10,500 farmer-shareholders and 16,000 staff to make personal donations. Fonterra will match what they give, dollar for dollar, up to a further $1 million,” said Ferrier.

Ferrier said Fonterra farmers around Christchurch had largely come through the earthquake unscathed, and with no major damage to Fonterra sites, the co-op was collecting and processing milk as normal.

“Our farmers are keen to help in any way they can. Civil Defence has advised that people are desperate for emergency accommodation. So we are collecting the details of local farmers with spare beds.

“Our hearts go out to the people of Christchurch and we will continue to do all we can to help at this difficult time,” Ferrier said.