Category — Colorado
While Nestle Waters of North America’s water extraction operation in Chaffee County, CO may have received a go-ahead from the county (despite the fact Nestle’s application didn’t meet the criteria), citizens are not happy, and the story drew the attention of the Christian Science Monitor, which included this passage:
For the better part of this year, Salida – population 5,400 – has also been the setting for a 21st century kind of battle – over water.
Here and there in windows and entryways are signs reading “Stop Nestlé” or “Nest-Leave.” They refer to a proposed project by Nestlé Waters North America, which hopes to pump water from a spring a half-hour north of here and sell it under its Arrowhead label.
Citing myriad concerns, a group of residents has objected vigorously. They worry about impacts to the watershed and to nearby wetlands. They say that climate change, predicted to further dry Colorado and the Southwest, warrants a precautionary approach to all things water-related. And, pointing to fights other communities have had with the company, they say they simply don’t want Nestlé as a neighbor.
None of the above is news to StopNestleWaters readers, and the response from Nestle’s operative is also predictable; opponents are “emotional” and Nestle’s only a target because they’re big.
This, of course, ignores the numerous conflicts Nestle’s incited in other rural areas, and it’s a shame the article itself doesn’t completely explore the roots of citizen dissatisfaction with Nestle.
Still, attention from national and international media (like the famous BusinessWeek article on Nestle’s battle in McCloud) are the very thing that Nestle would like to avoid. After all, the company is one the most-boycotted corporations on the planet, and they’re still facing an international baby formula boycott for their predatory tactics aimed at third world mothers.
National media attention they don’t need – even that which uncritically accepts the statements of their spokespeople.
October 29, 2009 Comments Off
Now that Nestle’s Chaffee County water extraction project has been permitted – despite the opposition of an overwhelming majority of the citizenry – we have to ask: What’s next?
Salida Citizen reporter Lee Hart – who provided detailed coverage of the entire saga – pens a thoughtful opinion piece about what’s next for the community:
Last week, the commissioner voted unanimously to support conditional approval of Nestle’s operations in this county. The permit approval contains 44 conditions totaling 11 pages which County Commissioner Chair Frank Holman said he trusts the world’s largest food and beverage company will abide by, adding that he also calls on local citizens to serve as watchdogs of the project. A final, formal resolution on the project is expected to be reviewed for adoption before Oct. 18.
Nestle assured the Citizen it would abide by the conditions and be a “good neighbor.” Yet nothing about Nestle’s actions throughout the public review process lead me to share in Holman’s naïve optimism and Nestle’s verbal assurances that Nestle will be a good neighbor and happily comply with all 44 conditions of approval of their permit.
At best this project will be an ongoing series of unwieldy hassles for county staff; at worst, a complete environmental disaster.
I sincerely hope the citizens of Chaffee County don’t experience the environmental and legal nightmares visited upon residents of places like Fryeburg (ME), Mecosta County (MI), McCloud (CA) and a bundle of others.
Yet it’s clear that where Nestle goes, lawsuits and environmental damage often follow – as do Nestle’s corporate spinmeisters, who say one thing while the Swiss multinational does another.
Hart alludes to this sad tendency. And offers a glimpse into the future of the county commissioners who campaigned on water issues, then folded like a cheap tent in a hurricane – even after Nestle’s application and analysis were found badly lacking:
From all appearances, only public pressure and opposing county consultant analysis moved Nestle to make major concessions like the removal of the Bighorn Springs parcel and promise of a permanent conservation easements. There are clear indications Nestle spun facts and the truth in its pursuit of county approval, most notably in a tense debate with Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District General Manager Terry Scanga.
But it also seems like an unfair fight when a giant multinational corporation picked as its first target in Colorado, a small rural community of limited financial resources, dearth of technical expertise and glaring voids in regulations at the local and state level to definitively protect it against such commercial water grabs. And there’s no question Nestle can and still may well overpower this community with its vast resources in order to win any future argument about any aspect of the project.
While the commissioners had the opportunity to reject the proposal, thereby concurring with public and staff testimony that the application did not satisfy all the terms of the 1041 permit process, they chose instead to approve the project with a lengthy list of conditions they felt addressed the public’s concerns and brought the project into 1041 compliance. In so doing they also reneged on campaign assurances and stump speeches about green being the color of the future here and vowing to keep water in the valley.
You can read Hart’s piece in its entirety at Nestle saga moves toward next chapter.
September 3, 2009 Comments Off
It’s interesting to note that the much comprehensive, critical coverage of the Nestle water extraction project in Chaffee County originated from online local news sites.
In the rare instances that larger media outlets (like the LA Times’ Denver bureau) got involved, they often deferred to Nestle’s corporate spokesman, and offered little in the way of real analysis.
One local Chaffe County news site offering coverage was the Ark Valley Voice (whose masthead includes the famous Joseph Pulitzer quote: “Newspapers should have no friends”).
They published an editorial suggesting the Nestle fight wasn’t over, citing a screening of the new bottled water documentary “Tapped” and a visit from Michigan environmental attorney Jim Olson, who helped fight Nestle to a standstill in Mecosta County.
From the Ark Valley Voice:
The second part of the evening featured a presentation by Jim Olson, the Michigan based attorney who fought Nestlé for nine years with some significant victories. He spoke at Thursday evening’s event thanks to efforts by Nestlé’s formal, local opposition, Chaffee Citizens for Sustainability (CCFS). Olson’s message was simple and optimistic: Nestlé can still be turned back, Chaffee County can do it.
But he also warned that the stakes are high, urging people to remember that, “This is not a dead issue. It’s just been born. Their (the Commissioners) vote gave birth to the issue of beneficial use in Colorado.” Nestlé’s move to Chaffee County, he warned, could set a dangerous and unanticipated precedent.
The precedent Olson refers to is the jurisdiction of the North American Free Trade Agreement or NAFTA. Olson indicated that supporters of Nestlé might consider that NAFTA currently holds no power over Colorado’s Public Water systems. But, with the slow creep of water from a publicly held right to a privately held commodity, Chaffee County’s children could someday compete with Canada and Mexico for access at the kitchen faucet.
County Commissioners who ran for election based on keeping water in the Valley along with speeches regarding green as the color of the future, may have reneged on their promises in more ways than they understand. That’s because once water is privatized, it is very difficult to fend off international intervention.
Olson encouraged folks, however, not to get bogged down with what has passed, but rather to look forward to what can be done. He reminded the large SteamPlant crowd that the Commissioners’ approval is only one minor gateway on the path to Nestlé’s pumping operations. For example, Nestlé still needs to get past State water engineers and have its plans approved by the State Water Court, which can be a lengthy process.
While the word “recall” was heard in association with the current Commissioners, the focus was largely on defeating Nestlé rather than punishing elected officials. In that vein, Olson says there is plenty to do, including:
1. Funds must be raised to combat the bottler in the Water Court.
2. Local opposition must get vocal and energized. Olson reminded people that this campaign is not to be short lived. Nestlé is not defeated overnight, but in the long run.
3. Records should be scoured via the Freedom of Information act in order to examine every interaction Nestlé has with public officials.
4. Send letters to the governor and legislators and let them know that Colorado wants to keep its water public.
5. Join forces with CCFS to help create a long-range plan to combat not only the current erroneous use of Colorado’s water, but also any future incursions. You can donate time, money, or any other skill you have.
Olson also reminded everyone with a stake in the future of the area’s water resources that, “You in Colorado have a chance to draw the line on beneficial water use and use your constitution to say that water is for the people.”
He concluded, “You can define this popularly. It’s the public that has to say, ‘this water is ours and this use of it is wrong.’”
You can read the rest of this opinion piece here: EDITORIAL: Nestlé Fight Is Not Finished | Ark Valley Voice.
September 3, 2009 Comments Off
Once again, Nestle Waters tried to bypass good public process when it submitted an eight-page memo to Chaffee County’s commissioners… the day prior to their decision.
While the Chaffee Citizens for Sustainability also attempted to add comments to the record, Nestle’s memo apparently contradicts the testimony given by its own (paid) experts during the public testimony – and sheds new light on just how far Nestle’s willing to go in order to subvert the public process.
From another insightful Lee Hart article in the Salida Citizen:
The day before it was granted conditional approval to proceed with its proposed water harvesting project in Chaffee County, Nestle Waters North America submitted an eight-page memo to the Board of County Commissioners asking for reconsideration of draft conditions in several of the most hotly contested aspects of its proposal.
Perhaps most significantly, a review of Nestle’s eight-page memo appears to show Nestle directly contradicting earlier testimony by its own legal team aimed at discrediting and downplaying testimony by Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District General Manager Terry Scanga,
Earlier in the public review process, Scanga provided written and oral testimony warning Commissioners that Nestle project depletions could cause an increase in exchanges by Aurora on the Arkansas that could have a “deleterious effect” on the basin. Aurora has signed a 10-year lease with Nestle to provide augmentation water for the project.
In direct counterpoint to Scanga, Nestle water counsel Steve Sims told Commissioners that while he appreciates Scanga for “always looking out for the Upper Ark,” he also said it was “very very doubtful” that the Nestle-Aurora lease would change any legal dynamic on the river.
At the time, Sims said the 200-acre-feet per year Nestle-Aurora lease is a fraction of Aurora’s 52.000-acre-foot portfolio on the Upper Arkansas Basin.
Commenting on the drought scenario Scanga painted for the county, Sims flatly assured the Commissioners “it’s just not going to happen,” especially in light of Aurora’s Prairie Waters project that Sims said will double or triple Aurora’s water portfolio, buffering it against enacting the type of drought triggers Scanga envisioned.
Now three months later, Nestle appears to refute its own earlier testimony. It recaps Scanga’s argument that Aurora will need Nestle lease water to serve its customers in the future and they should not be allowed to replace that water with new Arkansas exchanges. Nestle now agrees that this is a “legitimate concern” that will be mitigated by draft county condition 32a requiring Nestle to suspend pumping project wells if Aurora exercises its right to exchange any Category 2 leased water.
The question you have to ask yourself is did Nestle know it wasn’t telling the truth when its expert testified originally, or is this an attempt to avoid halts to pumping later (should the Aurora mitigation water become unavailable)?
Nestle Double-Dips on Monitoring, Overland Access
The Nestle memo is also remarkable for its contradictory nature; in a self-congratulatory letter to the editor of the Salida Citizen, Nestle repeatedly pats itself on the back for the mandated extensive wetlands monitoring program and sportsmen’s access to the river through their property.
Yet in their memo, Nestle argues that their monitoring program should be dramatically scaled back, and that the overland sportsmen’s access should not be required.
In other words – and in typical Nestle fashion – they’re arguing against the very programs their PR staff use to promote the project.
In one sense, this is par for Nestle, though familiarity with the tactic doesn’t render it less despicable – or revealing as to the Swiss multinational’s character.
Nestle has repeatedly touted its long-term monitoring program on McCloud’s Squaw Creek as proof of its stewardship – conveniently forgetting there was no monitoring program of any kind in place until it was forced on them by opponents of the McCloud project.
In truth, Nestle only implemented a monitoring program after nullifying their original contract with McCloud – and only after the PR burden of not having a program in place outpaced even Nestle’s PR legions to counter.
Read Ms. Hart’s complete story: Nestle, CCFS sought last-minute concessions from county on six hot topics.
August 27, 2009 Comments Off
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.
August 6, 2009 Comments Off
With questions looming about the effects of climate change on local water supplies, you’d think Chaffee County’s Commissioners would give climate change more than a cursory glance during Nestle’s water extraction project permitting process – especially given the arid nature of Colorado’s climate.
Sadly, that didn’t happen (from the Salida Citizen: Science, commissioners at odds over climate change in Nestle deliberations):
“Conservation has to become an ethic in the West,” said Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter, adding the region needs to do more to protect the water that’s already available.
Yet here in Chaffee County, conservation and climate change didn’t merit so much as a passing mention as the Board of County Commissioners began deliberations on a multi-decade commercial water harvesting proposal, even as an overwhelming majority of scientific studies anticipate a reduction of total water supply by the mid-21st century is likely to exacerbate competition for over-allocated water resources especially in the fast-growing West. The county’s own consultants, Colorado National Heritage Progam, cautioned commissioners: “In the interest of maintaining the wetland plant communities, any proposed development plan that impacts water resources should take into consideration global climate change.” Yesterday, CNHP ecologist Delia Malone, writing as a private citizen, spoke out on what she called the commissioners’ “short-sightedness” in dismissing climate change from deliberations on the water harvesting project proposed by Nestle Waters North America.
Two long-term questions need to be answered by every small, rural community facing a Nestle project.
First, with bottled water on the environmental hot seat – and the bottled water market in Europe and USA actually declining – what kind of future does Nestle’s plant really have?
And second – given Nestle’s unwillingness to compromise its pumping rates even when faced with evidence of the damage it’s doing (and its unwillingness to conduct long-term studies or generate useful baseline data) – what kind of legal fund will your town need to establish to protect the aquifer?
July 22, 2009 Comments Off
Nestle’s Chaffee County (CO) extraction project has continued to make the news, only as of late, it’s been because Nestle hasn’t yet paid the invoices sent to it by the county. As a result, the county has refused to begin deliberations on the project, leaving the bitterly fought contest in limbo for a little longer.
Local journalist Lee Hart has covered the Nestle project from the beginning, and her latest offers yet another perspective on the issue: Just say no: Potential longterm losses should sink Nestle water proposal
Ecologist Delia Malone of Colorado Natural Heritage Program came under fire for recommending exactly such consideration in her review for the county of potential natural resources impacts from the Nestle project. Nestle vehemently objected to numerous findings in Malone’s first draft report in which she devoted a section to climate change including this statement: “Climate trends will alter stream flows and aquifer recharge rendering (Nestle) predictions about pumping sustainability unsupported and inconclusive.”
Nestle consultants argued that “given the current state of knowledge, it seems tenuous and illogical to base project approvals on climatalogical conditions (with considerable uncertainty) to occur many years in the future.”
But Malone, whose draft report had referenced scientific opinions included reference to climate change predictions for Colorado from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change fired back saying, “given the current state of knowledge regarding the impact of climate change on water resources in the West, I strongly recommend erring on the side of caution by conserving the water resources that are predicted to be impacted by our changing climate.”
Given the volume of concern over reports pointing to the certainty that climate change will impact to water resources here and throughout the West, we agree with Malone that the county should err on the side of caution.
Nestle has not conclusively demonstrated that benefits accruing to the county from its operations will “outweigh the losses of any natural, agricultural and recreational resources with the county or losses of opportunities to develop such resources,” a basic tenet of the 1041 regulations. Therefore, we urge the commissioners to live up to their campaign promises and other public pronouncements about keeping water in the valley and that green, as in sustainability, is the future for the county, and say no to Nestle.
For those with an aversion to corporate doublespeak, Nestle’s argument against considering climate change essentially devolves into “no one can predict the future, so let us have what we want now.”
That’s convenient for Nestle’s stakeholders, but not exactly the kind of thinking that benefits Chaffee County, who stand to gain little from the Nestle project – except perhaps future limits on growth due to water shortages.
June 23, 2009 Comments Off
Nestle’s lunge for Chaffee County’s spring water continues to draw interest from the media (which is probably not what Nestle initially envisioned).
It’s become a marathon of public hearings in Chaffee County, and Nestle’s experiencing what it probably likes least: the glare of independent assessments of their promises to the tiny rural area (their assertion the county would enjoy a $80,000 property tax bump was found lacking; the real number falls below $17,000).
In the Colorado Independent, writer David O Williams looks at the larger picture: Nestle bottled-water war heats up in Arkansas River Valley
A water grab by Swiss food and beverage behemoth Nestle is playing out in the county commissioner’s chambers of rural Chaffee County, which is considering issuing a 1041 permit to allow the siphoning of spring water for Nestle’s Arrowhead bottled water.
Enough water to supply about 700 homes would be pulled from springs in the scenic Arkansas River Basin, one of the most heavily rafted and fished rivers in the United States, and trucked up to Denver for bottling for Nestle’s Arrowhead brand.
Officials from the Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District have been battling Nestle’s plan because the Swiss company wants to replace the spring water with water it leased from Aurora, but the Front Range city would retain the right to pull the plug on that deal in the event of a drought.
Finally, a Quince Adams (who appears to be a design student) fired up a short Nestle video, which is what we’re leaving you with today:
May 8, 2009 Comments Off
Chaffee County’s fifth public meeting over Nestle’s water extraction project ran from 1pm to 11pm, and while Nestle imported some seriously expensive legal talent, the news for the world’s largest food & beverage multinational isn’t all that good.
While Nestle desperately tries to put the wheels back on their Chaffee County extraction project (they seemed to fly off a couple weeks ago when independent consultants started shooting factual holes in Nestle’s proposals), the comment count from residents – and the number of documents submitted – temporarily overwhelmed the county’s computers.
The Salida Citizen’s Lee Hart wrote a comprehensive article detailing the issues facing the project, focusing on eight key issues still in contention.
Two of the issues fall in familiar territory to those who follow’s Nestle’s extraction efforts – the lack of real baseline water data, which could presumably be used to force Nestle to curtail their pumping activities.
Frankly, it’s classic Nestle, who make a lot of noises about stewardship of the resource, but – as we saw in Mecosta County – have to be forced to stop pumping.
From the Salida Citizen story:
Bighorn Springs exclusion. Citing a lack of adequate baseline data, County water counsel Jim Culichia said he recommends excluding the Bighorn Springs from the project. Culichia explained that Nestle is required to “demonstrate no impact” but can’t do so because of a lack of baseline data, which Culichia said is a problem that can’t be remedied by simply monitoring after the start of the project. Pumping will have some impact on the springs, Culichia said. Without adequate baseline data, when changes to the spring do occur, Nestle could argue that the change was natural rather than a result of Nestle operations which would mean Nestle could avoid mitigating the impacts. Resolution: Unresolved.
Ruby Mountain Springs additional data. Culichia concurred with hydrology consultants Geomega that additional tests would be needed to provide the county with a better idea of the impact to the aquifer under conditions that more closely resemble Nestle’s proposed operational plan. To date, Nestle pump tests have only been performed on one test well while the operational plan indicates two wells will be pumping at the same time. Culichia said Nestle did note it had recently performed a pump test of that well at higher rates but had not shared the data with the county. Importantly, Culichia said the other proposed well that has not undergone tests is closer to the river and the aquifer could, and likely will, react differently when both wells are pumping. Resolution: Unknown at press time.
More importantly, it’s now clear that Nestle’s initial promises of economic benefits to Chaffee County were at best smoke and mirrors – and at worst, the kind of outright fabrication that has dogged the company’s projects in the past.
A sterling example? Nestle initially claimed their project would generate $80,000 in property tax revenue. The real number? Less than $17,000 annually.
It would add $2.4 million in assessed property value, generating more than $18,000 in property taxes for 2010 and more than $500,000 during the next 30 years. [ED: That’s less than $17,000 per year]
Nestle clearly expected an easy ride in Chaffee County, and with multiple extraction projects already in the planning stages for Colorado, they simply can’t afford to lose in Chaffee County. Accordingly, their original promises of “support” to the community were limited to donating cases of bottled water to worthy causes (uhh, gifting the community its own water?).
Now – in the corporate equivalent of a gunslinger’s quickdraw – they’re reaching for their wallet (a good lesson for those communities who are only starting to talk with Nestle; their first offer to you is a sucker deal):
In addition to a $500,000 community endowment, Nestlé committed to an annual giving program and reimbursement of extraordinary county expenditures not covered by tax payments.
Gone completely is the “economic benefit” whereby Nestle’s trucks would buy diesel in the county, supporting the area with fuel taxes. As a consultant pointed out, the county doesn’t receive direct fuel tax payments.
Nestle can still pull this project out of the fire – small rural communities simply lack the kind of regulation needed to say “no” to a multinational with Nestle’s legal firepower – but it’s instructive to look how far the county’s residents have come from the initial stages, which were characterized more by misinformation than real facts.
Given the minimal economic benefits to the area (most of which are fairly short lived) and Nestle’s newly exposed lack of veracity, it’s clear that the company is in the midst of creating yet another PR mess for itself (Fryeburg, ME ring any bells?).
We leave you with an insightful comparison of Nestle’s legal team and Chaffee County residents (from the Salida Citizen):
Nestle SA: $16.61 billion in net profits in 2008; 265,000 employees worldwide.
Brownstein, Hyatt, Farber and Schreck (Nestle legal counsel): 245
attorneys, 450 employees in 12 offices around the US. Billing rates for
legal counsel range from $275 – $750 per hour; average hourly rate
$340, median $325.
Chaffee County: 2009 budget, $22 million; 186 full-time equivalent employees, mean salary, $39,000.
May 7, 2009 Comments Off
Marathon Meeting in Chaffee County Leaves Nestle Issue Unresolved: Public Comments Overwhelmingly Negative
A large number of residents attended a 7.5 hour special meeting in Chaffee County, and the comments – both from the citizens and the independent consultants hired to review the project – were overwhelmingly negative.
Attendance at the 7½-hour special meeting fluctuated between 100 and 300 residents. The meeting began at 1 p.m. and commissioners adjourned to executive session about 9:30 p.m. so they could receive legal advice regarding procedural processes.
By press time it was unknown when the special meeting will reconvene although commissioners earlier said they will accept written comment until May 12.
Nestlé needs the land use permit to develop the water supply from two springs near Nathrop. The company needs the 1041 permit to identify and mitigate any potential adverse impacts from the proposed project.
Terry Scanga, general manager of the Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District, expressed concern about potential impact of the Nestlé proposed augmentation plan.
The plan relies on water leased from Aurora and could trigger the loss of 1,000 acre-feet of Arkansas River water during a drought.
Scanga revealed that the conservancy district and City of Salida offered Nestlé an augmentation plan that would have cost $500,000 a year, while Aurora is asking about $180,000 a year for augmentation water.
Colorado School of Mines professor John Emerick spoke on behalf of Chaffee County Citizens for Sustainability. Emerick raised issues about a lack of information regarding hydrology, plant and bird species, and ability of the ecosystem to respond to water table fluctuations.
So let’s tote up the talking points fromt this story alone:
- Residents are overwhelmingly against Nestle’s water extraction plan (which returns almost nothing to the county in economic terms).
- Nestle’s application suggests economic benefits which are largely illusory (or outright fabrications in the event of the gas tax claim)
- Nestle’s test pumping took place in one of the wettest years on record 2007, which belies the area’s drying trend
- Nestle repeatedly said it would do what was best for Salida, then sent the “agumentation” money out of the area because it was cheaper
- Non-Nestle funded consultants have shot Nestle’s supposedly bulletproof studies full of holes
And yes, it gets worse for Nestle:
Lauerman indicated Nestlé has begun installing small monitoring wells to better understand groundwater characteristics at the site.
Jane Browning, a former fisheries biologist living in Howard, noted major gaps in Nestlé information and echoed Emerick’s concerns.
“Without baseline studies,” Browning said, “it’s almost impossible to prove damage.”
Note Nestle’s sudden interesting in “better understanding” the site’s groundwater characteristics.
This my friends, is vintage Nestle: they make claims about protecting the watershed and tout their extensive studies, but only get down the real monitoring efforts when their project appears to be in jeopardy (witness the fire drill monitoring problem that started in McCloud – years after the after original contract was signed).
Look for more to come on Nestle’s near-death water extraction experience in Chaffee County.
It’s a hot-button subject, and yet another example of the difficulties Nestle’s suffering across North America.
May 1, 2009 Comments Off
Nestle Water’s Chaffee County water extraction project – which once saw smooth sailing ahead – now may be heading for the rocks (via the Salida Citizen online site):
During public hearing earlier this week, findings by the county’s
economic impact consultant, Jean Townsend of Coley/Forrest differed
dramatically from those presented by Nestle consultant THK Associates
as the county tries to determine what economic impacts the Nestle
project would have.
Nestle hopes to receive county approval for a special use permit and
1041 regulations to pipe spring water from the mouth of Brown’s Canyon
in Nathrop to Johnson Village. There, the water would be loaded onto
trucks for transport to a Denver bottling plant to become Nestle’s
Arrowhead brand of bottled water.
Demonstrating economic benefit is a condition of the 1041
regulations. Townsend found fault with Nestle’s portrayal of those
benefits on several significant fronts including the following:
- Though benefits were calculated on a 30-year term, Nestle has not
confirmed the duration of its water extraction plan that could be more
or less than 30 years.
- Local government property tax revenues are 61 percent less than Nestle estimates
- There will be no sales tax revenue to the county from the sale of
diesel fuel to Nestle trucks as well as electric utility use as THK
purported. This is an error THK admitted to in subsequent testimony.
- Local government expenditures would be higher than Nestle
estimated in part, because the county would have to hire ongoing
technical expertise to monitor Nestle pumping operations and any
- The Nestle application did not address, quantify or provide for
the mitigation of the economic benefits lost due to the permanent
removal of spring water other than mentions of educational projects and
restoration work to the fish hatchery site on the property.
Townsend suggested the county work with Nestle to establish a
mitigation fund specifically earmarked for the project and funded by
Nestle that would help prevent against the county incurring negative
THK’s Peter Elzi questioned Townsend’s math with respect to property
tax calculations and pipeline valuation. Townsend, bristling, defended
her math on property tax calculations and explained that she used state
mandated guidelines for assessing the value of the privately owned
The Salida Citizen’s well-written story also cited overwhelming citizen resistance against the project, with most objecting to the loss of a natural resource with no real benefit to the area:
Avid fly-fisherman David Moore, spoke of the “myth of economic benefit”
saying Nestle is acting like it’s doing the county a huge favor by
“taking our natural resources.”
Businesswoman Colleen Kunkel told
commissioners that in her review of the Nestle 1041 application, she
found “no evidence that Nestle is a sustainable business of value to
this (Chaffee) county”
April 25, 2009 Comments Off
It sounds as if the Chaffee County 1041 Permit meeting – originally expected to be smooth sailing for Nestle Waters of North America – turned into a near-death experience for the company and its consultants.
The two words they didn’t want to hear? “Not Satisfied.”
The potential negative impacts on wetlands and the local economy were the focus of several items listed as “not satisfied” on the Nestlé Waters North America 1041 application by Chaffee County Engineer Don Reimer during the public hearing Tuesday in Buena Vista.
Two big areas of concern arose.
First came the consultant’s pointed doubts about Nestle’s claims of no environmental impacts to the wetlands and aquifer:
Ken Kohm, Ph.D., and Paul K.M. Van der Heijde of Geomega, a Boulder-based environmental consultant company working for the county, gave feedback of their review of Nestlé’s proposed groundwater and wetland development plan.
Kohm and Van der Hejide expressed concerns about the site. The individual wetland structure and function were not identified by Nestlé, they said.
There isn’t a history of the hydrology, Kohm said, so it’s difficult to fully understand what the impacts might be if previous patterns are unknown.
Both consultants said correct monitoring is needed to get better data and recommended a complete monitoring and mitigation plan.
Bruce Lauerman, Nestlé natural resource manager, said he felt the testing done by Nestlé was sufficient, but he did agree with the consultants about having a monitoring plan.
Then another consultant largely debunked Nestle’s claims of economic benefits to Chaffee County:
She said she felt Nestlé overestimated revenues the county would receive, suggesting the amount would be 61 percent less than estimated by Nestlé due to Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights constraints.
Townsend also said there were miscalculations regarding how the project is beneficial in terms of diesel fuel purchased, adding that there isn’t a local sales tax on diesel,.
Townsend also feels the costs to the county were underestimated and said the real question is “What is the net fiscal impact?” She suggested the creation of a mitigation fund from which the county could pull money to offset costs.
It gets worse for Nestle, and highlights the kind of fast-and-loose-with-the-facts “studies” used by Nestle in other areas (including Florida, where Nestle’s promise of 300 jobs fell flat in the face of their delivery of half that number).
Apparently there really are lies, damned lies, and Nestle’s claims.
April 24, 2009 2 Comments