Salida Residents Join Forces to Oppose Nestle Pumping Operation in Chaffee County, Colorado

To feed Nestle’s bottling operation in Denver, Nestle Waters wants to locate a water pumping operation in Chaffee County, Colorado.

A quick glance suggests the operation is vintage Nestle; little benefit accrues to the rural community, yet there are (as usual) downsides.

  • 50 truck trips per day on county roads (around the clock)
  • No permenant local jobs will be created – it’s a straight resource grab
  • Colorado is facing chronic (and worsening) water shortages
  • Nestle’s representative makes noises about “contributing” to the community and public access to the site, but never a firm commitment
  • Nestle profits handsomely from the area’s water, in return for which the residents receive… a small increase in property taxes

Residents are just now trying to bring some sanity back to the permitting process, and the Salida Citizen site has carried several stories about the project, including the latest: Citizens Join Forces to Block Nestle:

Nestle is more than halfway through Chaffee County’s
requisite land use application review process. Chaffee County Planning
Commission hearings on the case were expected to conclude earlier
today. Planning Commission recommendations are forwarded to the Board
of County Commissioners for final consideration. The Board of County
Commissioners public hearing is set for next Wednesday, March 18, at 1
p.m. at the Salida SteamPlant Theater and Conference Center on the
riverwalk in downtown Salida.

Salida resident Denise Ackert got lots of nods of approval when she
told the group that until the county has a clear plan for sustainable
water, energy and food security for 20 years down the road, she’s not
comfortable with a plan that exploits the county’s water resources.

A key speaker at tonight’s meeting was Jay Hake, of the law firm
Hake, Hart & Lintzenich, who agreed to provide pro bono legal aide
and guidance to the group that has just one week to develop a plan and
tactics to try to block county approval of the Nestle project.

Nestle’s history sadly suggests local control disappears the day the first Nestle truck rolls into town, and that their “good neighbor” promises often result in little more than empty air, subjects briefly addressed in the Salida Citizen piece “Is Nestle a Good Neighbor?“:

As it stands now, Nestle touts that it will pay a US $80 thousand
dollar windfall annually in the form of property taxes to Chaffee
County, but it is not clear that this is a total increase due to the
fact that taxes are already paid on many of the land parcels in
question. They also promise a one time expenditure of US $1.9 million
dollars in construction costs.

Again it is unclear how much of this
will benefit Chaffee County citizens or even Chaffee County. Then there
is promise of buying diesel fuel in Chaffee County and the tax on that
fuel being a benefit to Chaffee County. Again Nestlé offers a promise,
but without commitment or validation. Finally, Nestlé has promised to
be a “GOOD NEIGHBOR” with arm waving promises of help to schools,
sports teams, and charities. When questioned as to what this good
neighbor help might be, Nestlé stated this help would consist of
supplying bottled water to the above mentioned entities.
(ed: emphasis added)

Oh. Nestle’s bottling the area’s water, and in a gesture of goodwill (for which it expects to be lauded), gives it back.

So far, this project has been smooth sailing for Nestle Waters, and in fact, Colorado as a whole – despite a looming water problem – remains a largely Nestle-friendly zone. Is that reality about to change?

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