Once again, Nestle Waters of North America’s plan to extract 65 million gallons of water from Chaffee County (CO) springs has hit another snag, a decision being delayed again until August 19.
Typically, Nestle sought to move the discussion from the public arena to a private one, though the County Commissioners denied Nestle’s request to discuss project stipulations with staff instead of hearing them exposed to the public in the meeting.
From the Colorado Springs Gazette:
Since last fall, Chaffee County commissioners have been wrestling with the project and harsh public reaction to it. On Wednesday, they went over a long list of conditions under which they would approve Nestle’s plan.
But the board, which held a half-dozen marathon public hearings in the spring and has debated it twice in meetings since, again balked at taking a vote on a land-use plan. Commissioners set Aug. 19 for the next meeting, at which county staff will present refined conditions.
The company wants to withdraw 65 million gallons of spring water a year for its Arrowhead brand of bottled water. Many residents view it as a water grab and say it could deplete area water supplies with no economic benefit to the community.
Much of the Front Range’s water, including Colorado Springs’ Otero Pump Station and Homestake pipeline, passes through Chaffee County, either in pipelines or in the Arkansas River, and the project has touched a nerve.
The commissioners denied requests by Nestle to delay the discussion and by opponents to reopen public comment.
The project – which Nestle surely thought was a slam-dunk in formerly Nestle-friendly Colorado – has been besieged by unexpectedly vigorous opposition from residents.
The realization that the county stood to gain almost nothing of long-term value from the project has galvanized opponents – and the fact that Nestle’s permits included economic “benefits” information that was shown to be false by an independent economist and ecologists hired by the county.
Nestle – which plans to tap other springs in Colorado – is undoubtedly worried about the precedent this project sets – both in terms bad publicity and setting a standard for opposition no matter where they go.