When the end came, it came swiftly for Nestle’s proposed McCloud (CA) water bottling plant:
Nestlé Waters North America has decided to withdraw its proposal to build a bottling facility in McCloud.
Ever since Nestle negotiated its rapacious contract with the McCloud Services District in 2003 (largely behind closed doors), then pressured the board to approve it at the end of the first public input meeting, Nestle’s McCloud project has become one of the company’s biggest public relations liabilities.
First there were the string of lawsuits, and as the specifics of the contract came to light, outright indignation at the lopsided nature of the deal.
Here was a predatory multinational preying on a small rural town – as it had in other locations – but this time, not all the local residents were willing to shrug it off and walk away.
Instead, they rallied, formed groups, gained a small amount of financial backing, garnered a significant amount of international media attention, and ultimately forced Nestle to abandon its hugely one-sided contract.
Instead, in 2008, Nestle began the flow monitoring studies it should have begun in 2003, but the process was made redundant when Nestle negotiated a fast-track deal in Sacramento that better reflected the realities of rising fuel costs and pissed-off, distrustful McCloud residents.
Unfortunately for Nestle, the damage was already done to their normally behind-the-scenes work in rural areas; now almost every Nestle extraction or bottling project finds itself opposed by citizens who have learned what Nestle’s truly capable due to their actions in McCloud, Fryeburg, Mecosta, and others.
And yes – due to activists and the informational power of the Internet – Nestle’s been forced to address questions about its predatory behavior in rural areas.
Whether Nestle has turned over a less-predatory leaf in its pursuit of spring water from rural sources remains to be seen, and yes – significant questions about the environmental impacts and privatization of a critical resource are far from answered.
Still, in this one place – in this tiny mountain town – Nestle stumbled badly, tripped up by a small group whose victory will no doubt be noticed by others facing Nestle in their area.