**The following is a Dan Bacher Op-Ed piece about Nestle’s water bottling project in Sacramento**
Oct. 19, 2009 – Councilmember Kevin McCarty again raised the issue of the plan by Nestle to build a new bottling plant in South Sacramento at last Tuesday night’s Sacramento City Council meeting as grassroots community activists mobilized against the internationally boycotted corporation coming to the Capital City.
McCarty asked for the issue to be agendized for a future city council meeting so that an “urgency ordinance” can be passed, according to Save Our Water in Sacramento, the grassroots group fighting against Nestle’s plan to come to Sacramento after being kicked out of McCloud by massive local resistance.
“Councilmember McCarty will be asking the council to pass an urgency ordinance that would require a special permit for water bottling facilities in the city,” said Evan Tucker, an activist with Save Our Water. “This would require this type of project to come before the city council and be subject to environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act.”
“We are excited about this development, but concerned about the timeline,” Tucker stated. “If the council does not agendize this issue soon, it could be too late for the new law to affect Nestle. We want to make sure the ordinance would affect Nestle, not just bottling plants in the future.”
Vice Mayor Lauren Hammond also said she was concerned about water bottling in this city and wanted this issue addressed by the council, noted Tucker. However, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson supports the proposal by Nestle to open up the plant, claiming it would bring “jobs” to Sacramento.
Nestle claims the Sacramento plant would be a “micro-bottling plant,” bottling only 50 million gallons of water per year. However, according to the Department of Utilities, the estimated water usage is 215 thousand – 320 thousand gallons of water per day (78 – 116 millions per year). “This would make Nestle one of the top ten water users in Sacramento at a time when we are in our third consecutive year of a drought,” emphasized Tucker.
At a time when Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Senator Dianne Feinstein and California Legislators are campaigning for a peripheral canal to steal more water from the Sacramento River to supply unsustainable corporate agribusiness on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley and unsustainable development in southern California, we don’t need a huge corporation such as Nestle making immense profits off a public trust resource, Sacramento’s water supply!
Human rights activists and breast feeding advocates from throughout the world have boycotted the Swiss-based Nestle Corporation since 1977 because of the millions of deaths of infants it has caused over the decades. The boycott, coordinated by groups including Baby Milk Action, International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) , Infant Feeding Action Coalition (INFACT) and Save the Children, was prompted by concern about the company’s marketing of breast milk substitutes (infant formula), particularly in less economically developed countries, which campaigners claim contributes to the unnecessary death and suffering of babies, largely among the poor.
“Nestle is targeted with the boycott because monitoring conducted by the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) finds it to be responsible for more violations of the World Health Assembly marketing requirements for baby foods than any other company,” according to Baby Milk Action.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 1.5 million infants die around the world every year because they are not breastfed. Where water is unsafe, a bottle-fed child is up to 25 times more likely to die as a result of diarrhea than a breastfed child. “Marketing practices that undermine breastfeeding are potentially hazardous wherever they are pursued,” according to UNICEF.
Anti-Nestle organizations are sponsoring this year’s Nestle-Free Week from October 26 to November 1 in an effort to raise the profile of the boycott.
Do we want a criminal corporation responsible for the deaths of millions of infants come to Sacramento to make immense profits off our water supply?
Please spend a moment to contact Kevin McCarty and Lauren Hammond and let them know that you want the urgency ordinance passed in time to apply to Nestle. Contact Kevin McCarty at (916) 808-7006 or KMcCarty [at] cityofsacramento.org and Lauren Hammond at (916) 808-7005 or lhammond [at] cityofsacramento.org
Also, Save Our Water will be holding a screening of Tapped at the Crest Theater at 1013 K Street, Sacramento, on Wednesday, October 21. There will be screenings at 5:30 pm and 8 pm. Tickets will be regular box office prices: $9.50 for general admission, $6.00 for students & seniors. You can also purchase them online prior to the event at:
For more information, go to http://www.SaveOurWaterSacramento.org
Editor’ Note: Dan Bacher is editor of The Fish Sniffer: www.fishsniffer.com