Big Days for McCloud, Fryeburg as Nestle Saga Continues for Both

It’s a couple of very big days for Nestle Waters of North America (and those who oppose them).

Tonight (the 12th), the McCloud Services District’s agenda includes an item from Nestle proposing the district once again enter into contract negotiations with Nestle (at the end of this post, we included the statement presented by the Save Our Waters Coalition).

Despite the fact that Nestle has completed no flow studies and almost no environmental monitoring, they’re trying to rush back into negotiations for water – when nobody knows how much water is really available.

The problem, of course, is that Nestle believes the water that enters Squaw Creek and the world-renowned McCloud River is “wasted” – the kind of thinking guaranteed to make a real fisheries biologist soil his shorts.

After Nestle’s disastrous public meeting in McCloud (to read about that nightmare on wheels, click here), Nestle announced they weren’t going to bother with any further meetings, a move which suggests Nestle’s newfound “committment” to community involvement in the negotiation process is – like its committment to stewardship of the watershed – largely illusory.

Big Day for Freyburg

Tomorrow (the 13th), Nestle’s suit against Fryeburg – where Nestle’s trying to force its 24/7 truck loading station into a residentially zoned part of Fryeburg – will be heard again in Maine’s State Supreme Court.

Those who are counting along at home just ran out of fingers; this is the fourth appeal of the original lawsuit (that adds up to five), and we can only guess that Nestle’s aim wasn’t so much to win the legal case as it was to bankrupt their opponents, winning not by being right, but by default.

You’ve got to believe a loss for Nestle here would be the end of the line for their loading station, but they’ve made some mind-boggling moves in the past (in a prior suit, they argued their right to grow market share superseded Fryeburg’s right to say no).

In truth, Nestle’s incredibly heavy-handed legal maneuvering in Fryeburg has become something of an embarrassment for the company – a recent ad in a nearby newspaper largely pretended the whole affair simply wasn’t taking place – yet another triumph of Nestle’s PR over reality.

Hopefully, we’ll hear from folks at both events, and as soon as we know anything, we’ll pass it along.

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Oops, forgot to post this after I said I would:

Statement the Protect Our Waters Coalition to be read at the January 12th 2009 McCloud Community Services District Board Meeting

Honorable Board Members,

Tonight I urge you to think about what is in the best interest of McCloud. We all want prosperity and a thriving community without sacrificing our area’s magnificent natural resources. Fortunately we now have a clean slate and can determine what is truly best for McCloud.

Good things are happening in McCloud right now. In the past few months while we’ve had the chance to breath we’ve started talking to each other and working together. We are coming up with good ideas and real economic opportunities. From the Chamber hosting Willits, to the Michael Shuman community meeting, to the Business Idea Contest to JEDI’s survey–good things are happening.

But then we come back to the Nestle issue and with it the feeling of our community being divided.  While the Kearns and West meeting was uncomfortable, the statements from the meeting, and their meeting summary show that our community does not have enough information to begin negotiations on a new contract with Nestle now.  How could we make a commitment to contract details right now?  We don’t know any more now about the impacts of a plant on our community than we did 5 years ago.

McCloud has a second chance to explore whether the idea of a Nestle plant in our community is a good one, and a second chance to do it the right way – with real public process, good science, and sound economic analysis of its likely impact on our community. We have other economic opportunities for this town’s future as well.  Saying No to Nestle now would enable us to build upon those opportunities as a united community.

Going into a negotiating process with Nestle now is premature.  Nestle should complete background studies on our water, air quality, historic preservation, and traffic among other issues, and let those studies inform the project description they present to the community.  We shouldn’t waste MCSD time now on discussing a contract negotiation process with Nestle when we lack so much information.

If it were me, I would just say ‘no thanks’ to Nestle now, like other communities have across the country, because mistrust of Nestle is the big ‘elephant’ in the room. Considering Nestle fired Kearns and West and is planning to host their own meeting about their revised project description it seems they are going back to business as usual.  It is hard for me to see the trust issues going away.

But at least, I would give our community time to discuss what we want, and tell Nestle “don’t call us, we’ll call you.”

2 thoughts on “Big Days for McCloud, Fryeburg as Nestle Saga Continues for Both

  1. How can any water be “wasted”? Doesn’t that water end up in the ecosystem? Couldn’t withdrawls impact the entire system?

  2. That’s been the very point Nestle’s been avoiding their whole tenure in McCloud; they kept repeating the mantra that the water is wasted and that it was not enough to make a difference, yet Squaw Creek runs pretty low and warm in the summer, so taking a big chunk of that water completely out of the watershed could be damaging.

    Wasted? Looking back at all the time, money, and backstabbing Nestle’s invested in the McCloud project, I know from wasted.

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