Chaffee County Vote on Nestle Water Extraction Nears, Nestle Pretends It’s Not About Them (It Is)

The Colorado Springs Gazette notes that 80% of bottled water’s plastic bottles don’t make it to the recycling bin, highlighting that fact as one of the reasons why Chaffee County residents are opposed to Nestle’s jproposed bottled water extraction project (click here to see all our stories on the Chaffee County).

Frankly, we disagree. It’s terrible that a huge majority of Nestle’s plastic bottles end up on our lands and waterways, but the Chaffee County project was more than a referendum on bottled water. From the Gazette: Local debate spotlights fact: 80% of water’s packaging isn’t recycled:

A water fight is on in Chaffee County, one that shows how far the esteem of bottled water has fallen.

Nestle Waters North America wants to withdraw 65 million gallons of spring water a year for its Arrowhead brand of bottled water from springs near the Arkansas River, a few miles south of Buena Vista. Some in Chaffee County see it as a water grab with no benefit to the community, and hundreds packed several long and contentious public hearings held by the county this spring on Nestle’s 1041 land-use permit request. Foes worry the plan could deplete water supplies and increase truck traffic.

County commissioners will discuss, and possibly vote on, the permit today.

StopNestleWaters participated in the Chaffee County debate, and I’d suggest it was about far more than water supplies and truck traffic.

The county would enjoy almost no real economic benefit from the project (a fact that Nestle initially tried to hide using grossly inflated economic forecasts), and Nestle’s own reputation as something of a predator in small towns clearly came into play.

Nestle, of course, ignores that which it doesn’t want to hear:

A Nestle official says foes’ complaints are with bottled water as a whole.

“Most of it has nothing to do with the 1041 or the science. It’s their opinions about the end use of the water,” said Bruce Lauerman, Nestle’s natural-resources manager…

Wrong.

It’s also about Nestle – a multinational that small communities are increasingly realizing they can’t trust.

It’s a common tactic for Nestle to paint their foes as hysterical, emotional types who are being misled by the big, bad anti-water conspiracy, but the citizens in Chaffee County were treated to an eyeful of reasons why the Nestle project wasn’t a good fit:

  • The lack of economic benefit to Chaffee County, which Nestle’s desperate “promise” of a community endowment did little to assuage
  • Nestle’s distressing actions elsewhere, where it’s placed its own bottom line far above the needs of the community or watershed
  • Nestle’s willingness to wholly ignore impacts like climate change on the watershed
  • Nestle’s willingness to resort to legal means to bludgeon opponents – essentially bankrupting its opponents

And for a long list of reasons why the Nestle project should be denied by the commissioners (almost all of which are well within the scope of the 1041 process), read this thoughtful piece by the Salida Citizen’s Lee Hart.

In other words, given the lack of economic benefits to the area and a Pikes Peak-sized list of reasons Nestle’s extraction project could hurt the area, why exactly would anyone say yes?

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2 thoughts on “Chaffee County Vote on Nestle Water Extraction Nears, Nestle Pretends It’s Not About Them (It Is)

  1. The Chaffee County Commissioners recently debated the fate of Nestle Waters of North America’s proposed water extraction project there, yet didn’t arrive at a decision.

    Several stories in the regional press covered the hearing (It’s difficult for Nestle to sneak into town any more), and several passages were telling

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