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.