Tag Archives: chaffee county

Nestle’s Project in Chaffee County Heading for Final Decision, But Water Bottler Forced to React to Citizens

It’s been a surprisingly long road for Nestle Waters of North America’s Chaffee County water extraction project; an easy approval seemed to be in cards for the multinational before citizen opposition appeared seemingly out of nowhere (as did a local blog dedicated to the issue).

At the urging of residents, the county hired their own independent consultants to look at the project, and – unsurprisingly – discovered many instances where Nestle’s stated economic benefits to the community were wrong or grossly overstated (we’re shocked, shocked!).

Now, with the last marathon public meeting fading away into history, it’s up to the County Commissioners to decide the fate of the project – even though many of the questions about the project remain unanswered:

Chaffee County Commissioners Head to Deliberations in Nestlé Applications | Ark Valley Voice

On Thursday, May 21, The Chaffee County Commissioners endured the fourth and last round of marathon hearings on the Nestlé Waters North America applications for a 1041 and Special Land Use Permits. The eleven-hour meeting was peppered with the now commonplace disputes between Nestlé Water’s Regional Manager, Bruce Lauerman, and the County’s Staff, Consultants, and residents.

Nestlé did make a move to soothe widespread outcry over the project by voluntarily agreeing to remove the Bighorn site and its proposed operations from the permit (as Special Water Council, Jim Culichia, previously recommended) as well as a written guarantee of their willingness to place a conservation easement on parts of the project.

Many residents have expressed distrust over Nestlé’s unwillingness to guarantee project incentives on paper, in addition to what many perceive as a lack of transparency on behalf of the Swiss-based company.

Lauerman’s team of well-dressed and well-spoken attorneys, consultants, and public relations representatives, were by turn, respectful, direct, aggressive, and dismissive at Thursday’s meeting. One Nestlé attorney, Steve Simms, spoke with a tempered belligerence regarding a recommendation by the Upper Arkansas Water Conservation District Manager (UAWCD) Terry Scanga.

This might have been the first Nestle project where Nestle’s conduct in other small towns became an issue right at the start, and remained in the forefront throughout the process. In fact, it was enough of an issue that the normally unflappable Nestle – which usually ignores that which it finds inconvenient to acknowledge – was forced to confront the issue head on.

Unfortunately for Nestle, citizen journalism seems to have taken root in the area, with the Salida Citizen and the Ark Valley Voice (online, citizen-run news sites) providing running commentary and reportage that simply wasn’t available in the local newspaper.

Nestle was even forced to quickdraw their checkbook when it became apparent there were few lasting economic benefits to the county, making noises about ponying up an additional $500,000 “endownment” which would benefit local nonprofits.

It’s not unusual for Nestle to throw a few thousand dollars around a small community in an attempt to silence criticism; it’s quite another for them to be forced to do so by a citizenry that suddenly realizes Nestle isn’t doing anyone in the county any favors.

Still, the endowment would leave town when Nestle did, and the “benefits’ to the area’s nonprofits are put into perspective in an article from the Ark Valley Voice, which includes the following point/counterpoint:

Nestlé: Chaffee County would be the beneficiary of an endowment in the amount of $500,000. This fund would promote educational opportunities, and give $25,000-$30,000 to local organizations and events.

Opposition: This is just a gimmick. While $500,000 may sound like a lot, the benefits accrued don’t really add up. Minus costs, the annual payout would be closer to 12,000-$15,000. Locally based charities have raised significantly more in a single year and will continue to do so. Additionally, the fund will leave with Nestlé.

It’s true that the simplest explanation is usually the best; in Chaffee County, the simple explanation was that Nestle was forced to react to citizen opposition to their plans in ways they never had before.

Whether that’s a function of the Internet’s ability to network people in rural areas or simply the new reality facing Nestle Waters’ water bottling efforts isn’t clear.

What is clear is that the company’s less savory acts elsewhere – its lawsuits against Fryeburg, the citizens of Michigan, or opposition in McCloud (CA) – are suddenly becoming fodder even in the small rural towns where the company formerly faced little opposition.

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Citizen-Run Salida Citizen Offering Excellent Coverage of Nestle Water Extraction Plan

The Salida Citizen is an interesting experiment in online community news, and it’s generated a great deal of good, solid coverage of Chaffee County’s Nestle water-extraction controversey.

The Salida Citizen is a manifestation of the changing media world
The Salida Citizen is a manifestation of the changing media world

To gain a sense of the arc of the Nestle story in Chaffee County, you can see a list of all the Salida Citizen’s Nestle-related stories here.

While the outcome of Nestle’s water grab in Chaffee County remains in doubt, the Salida Citizen is a good example of a community-driven news site that’s serving an increasingly important purpose.

Activists facing Nestle in their small town sometimes write and bemoan the slanted coverage provided by their local newspapers, which (like larger newspapers) are suffering the effects of the economy and increased reliance on the Internet for news.

Nestle buys ads in local papers (often large ads), promises more in the future, and it’s difficult for publishers to ignore that reality. In some cases, that bias plays out in an uncritical acceptance of Nestle’s PR spin as news – or an under-representation of opposing viewpoints at public meetings.

In others, the bias is more pronounced, extending outward from the editorial pages.

Even in the best of circumstances, Nestle’s fulltime on-the-ground operatives simply have more access to media.

With residents already running headlong into Nestle’s PR legions and their fulltime on-the-ground operatives, dealing with an unfriendly media is simply one more indignity.

More on Nestle in Chaffee County From the Colorado Independent

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:

STOP NESTLE from Quince Adams on Vimeo.

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Nestle PR Spin of the Day: Protecting Water Resources a Priority in McCloud

Nestle’s taken to running a carefully controlled series of public meetings in the town of McCloud, CA – managed by a “facilitation” company and attended by a few Nestle execs.

It’s a step forward in terms of talking to the community, though we can’t escape the knowledge that their newfound concern for the residents of McCloud came only after their first (and largely rapacious) contract with the town went belly up.

Today’s PR effort? Here’s an excerpt from the Mount Shasta Herald:

“Protecting the water resources in McCloud is a priority for our company and the community and these studies will provide valuable and reliable information to use in evaluating our project and managing water resources for the long-term,” added Palais.

Does Nestle assume we’re so memory challenged that we’ll forget these studies were forced on them through the adroit work of the McCloud Watershed Council, CalTrout & Trout Unlimited?

You don’t have to be a detective to realize that Nestle originally pursued their contract with the town without conducting a single flow monitoring study. Not one.

As we’re seeing in Chaffee County (CO), Nestle’s “concern” for a community’s resources seemingly only appears after they’ve suffered a setback.

In McCloud, they’re finally being forced to do the studies they should have done initially.

In Chaffee County, they’re whipping out their checkbook and suddenly promising the community a $500,000 endowment (though initially with some ominous strings attached).

Initially, they only promised to support the community with free cases of bottled water (giving them their own water??), but after their highly inflated claims of economic benefit to the community were exposed – and began to threaten their water extraction project – they suddenly grew more “concerned” for the area’s economic well being.

This leaves us with two inescapable conclusions:

  1. It’s difficult to trust Nestle Waters of North America, who are seemingly a lot better at PR spin than they are real concern for rural towns and water resources
  2. The first offer from the company is probably a sucker deal

It also leads us to wonder if the McCloud Services District – if they deal with Nestle at all – should negotiate a similar endowment for the town?

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More On Nestle’s Chaffee County Water Extraction

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.

Oops.

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.

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Chaffee Resident Points Out Nestle’s “Consumptive” Use of Water Double That of ALL Residential Wells in County

A letter to the editor in the Salida Citizen fires up some interesting facts surrounding the Nestle Water Extraction project. It suggests Nestle’s water extraction project – despite repeated denials from the company’s operative – will have a significant effect on the area’s ability to grow. How?

Essentially, household use of water returns about 90% to the aquifer. By contrast, Nestle’s use removes all the water from the area, so even though there’s a downstream “augmentation,” the lack of groundwater in the area could dramatically limit growth.

Read all about it here:

Nestlé withdrawal greater than consumptive use | Salida Citizen

Dear Commissioners Holman, Glenn, and Guise,

Thank you for the opportunity to discuss publicly, during the hearing on April 29th, the fact that the consumptive use of the Nestle Waters spring project is almost double the 2003 consumptive use of all of the residential wells in Chaffee County combined, based on a hydrological report that was one of Nestle Water’s submittals on the chaffeecounty.org website. “Hydrogeology and Quality of Ground Water in the Upper Arkansas River Basin from Buena Vista to Salida, Colorado, 2000-2003”, by Kenneth R. Watts.

The report cites “An estimated 3,443 wells pumped about 690 to 1,240 acre feet for domestic and household use in Chaffee County during 2003.” “Most augmentation plans are based on a consumptive use for domestic-household supply of 10 percent of withdrawal. The remaining 90 percent of domestic-household withdrawals are assumed to be returned to the aquifer through septic systems.” ”If consumptive use is 10 percent of domestic-household withdrawals, then current (2003) consumptive use for domestic-household use is about 69-124 acre feet/yr…” and …”projected 2030 consumptive use would be about 149-304 acre feet/yr.”

Therefore, the Nestle Waters extraction of 200 acre feet/year of 100 percent consumptive use is about double the average of 69-124 acre feet/year of the 2003 combined residential consumptive well use in the county.

This places the project in a different perspective of water use from what the Nestle team has been asserting. Bruce Lauerman keeps insisting that the amount withdrawn of .3 cfs of water is insignificant. I heard Mr. Lauerman say yesterday, almost under his breath, that it is so minimal, it shouldn’t even warrant needing augmentation. This information of actual well use helps highlight the Nestle approach of minimizing the impacts to allay concerns over the water extraction project.

Does this withdrawal from the basin displace future growth in the county, either residential or business? Sustainable growth contributes to commerce and supports infrastructure. Water for growth seems crucial to the future of the valley. Under the permit process, to approve the Nestle Waters project for what would seem to be a “nonessential” use, would be regrettable if it did indeed restrict future opportunities, especially if those involved food production.

Thank you very much,
Jane Browning
Howard

Ouch, Nestle. Another hole just appeared in Nestle’s formerly “bulletproof” case.

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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.

From the Mountain Mail newspaper: More negative Nestlé comments offered

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.

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Nestle’s Problems in Chaffee County Multiplying: A One Year Decision-Making Moratorium Looming?

This from the Ark Valley Voice newspaper in Chaffee County:

An unnamed, high-ranking Chaffee County official, who spoke specifically on condition of anonymity, said that an immediate one-year moratorium should be placed by the County Commissioners on the decision to accept or deny the Nestle Waters North America (NWNA) application for 1041 and Special Land Use Permits. The official believes that such a moratorium would be prudent because of the complexity of the issue.

The 1041 and Special Land Use Permits would allow NWNA to pump water from a natural spring site located near Nathrop, Colorado and send it some five miles to a loading station in Johnson Village. Once at the loading station, the water would be trucked over Trout Creek Pass, twenty-five times per day, to Denver for packaging in an Arrowhead Bottled Water facilitiy. The wells that will pump the water out of the spring are known as the Ruby Mountain and Bighorn sites.

However, it appears that the application has not met several mandatory criteria, according to four documents: the “Planning Commission Recommendations Nestle Waters 1041 Application Comments Nestle Waters 1041 Permit”, the “Application Review Memorandum” dated February 27, 2009 and accompanying “Addendum” from April 16, 2009, the independent consultant report on the wetlands by Geomega of April 14, 2009, as well as an additional independent consultant’s report from Jean Townsend with Coley/Forest, April 16, 2009. All the documents can be found at the Chaffeecounty.org website.

It’s an interesting idea – and probably not good news for Nestle that a county official thinks a moratorium is needed – but why the moratorium in the first place?

If Nestle hasn’t meet the permitting conditions, isn’t a simple denial in order?

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More on Nestle’s Chaffee County Project: The Numbers Just Don’t Add Up

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
subsequent mitigation

– 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
financial impacts.

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
water pipeline.

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”

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Nestle Caught Unprepared at Hearing: Chaffee County 1041 Permit Process “Not Satisfied”

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.

Why is Nestle Waters Pursuing Chaffee County Project First?

Nestle Waters of North America’s hotly contested water extraction project in Chaffee County (CO) bears all the indications of being the first of many, and in fact, Nestle’s operative admits Nestle will soon be looking for additional spring sites around the state.

This perceptive letter in the SalidaCitizen.com site asks the simple question: Why us?

Why did Nestle come to Chaffee County first? I think it was not just for the water. I think Nestle wanted a small rural community with very limited resources to address their first 1041 permit application in the state.

Nestle’s stated intentions are to satisfy their market in the Rocky Mountain region. Bruce Lauerman, at the Board of Commissioners meeting in Buena Vista last Tuesday April 21, spoke of looking for additional spring sites throughout the state, with the help of the State’s Engineer’s Office. By setting a precedent with this first application approval, it will make it more difficult to deny the next permit in the next county.

I feel this is just the beginning of NWNA’s extended efforts to develop industrial water extraction projects statewide. This project has been presented as small and benign. NWNA is a subsidiary of the Nestle Corporation, a foreign company.

Swiss owned, it has been engaged in monopolization of water resources globally. I am concerned about the long term implications of Nestle engaging in “Buy and Dry” land purchases and/or other spring site developments, when it is yet to be established if the State of Colorado has capacity to support industrial extraction of water for profit.

This is the first project of its kind in Colorado, and a responsible approach would be to place a moratorium on projects of this kind until the issue can be studied, and determined if this type of enterprise is appropriate for our state. In this case, the concept is being hurried, without asking or answering important questions.

Nestle’s Chaffee County Extraction Project Faces Stiff Citizen Oppostion: Decision Delayed to Accommodate Comments

Via the Salida Citizen online news site, we discovered the reception “enjoyed” by Nestle at the Chaffee County Commissioners meeting wasn’t as friendly as they could have hoped.

After seven hours of discussion on technical data from a mounting pile of consultant reports and impassioned pubic testimony on Nestle Waters North America proposed water harvesting project, Chaffee County Board of County Commissioners Chairman Frank Holman halted the proceedings. With more than 20 people still interested in commenting on the application, the commissioners agreed to continue public testimony on Wednesday, April 29, starting at 1 p.m. at the Salida SteamPlant Theater and Event Center.

The bulk of yesterday’s hearing before an overflow, standing room only crowd at the cramped American Legion Hall in Buena Vista focused on the two newest consultant reports reviewing the hydrology and economic impacts of Nestle’s plans to harvest water in Nathrop. Nestle’s plans call for piping spring water from the mouth of Brown’s Canyon to Johnson Village where it will be loaded onto trucks bound for Denver for bottling and distribution under Nestle’s Arrowhead brand.

A bad sound system and horrible acoustics of the hall added an extra challenge as the audience that reached nearly 200 at its peak, strained to hear testimony from a parade of Nestle and county consultants as well as comments from citizens, the vast majority of whom voiced opposition to Nestle’s plans.

This is just an excerpt; the whole story is definitely worth a read, and interestingly – and despite repeated statements from Nestle suggesting there will be no negative environmental impacts from their projects – several new consultant reports and citizens groups disagree.

Will the citizens of Chaffee County – despite a late start – still pull this one out? Stay tuned.

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