Tag Archives: neste waters of north america

McCloud Services District Takes Up Nestle Bottling Plant Issue Again

At the last McCloud Services District meeting (MCSD), a majority of the community spoke out against immediately entering into new contract negotiations with Nestle Waters of North America.

A majority wanted some “breathing room” from the predations of the multinational, and while the MCSD board temporarily punted, it’s unclear what will happen when the subject comes up for a vote at the January 26 McCloud Services District (MCSD) meeting.

After five years of fighting and Nestle-fostered factionalism (the multinational used its cash to interfere in the last election, and employs hired “consultants” to spread the word), most every person in the tiny rural town of McCloud expressed a desire for a little “breathing room” – something Nestle simply won’t give.

The problem, of course, is one of trust; after the board negotiated the first Nestle contract behind closed doors (and delivered one of the worst-negotiated contracts the world’s ever seen), Nestle continually interfered in the town’s affairs, including funding a slate of pro-Nestle candidates in the 2006 election.

In that case, they maintained they weren’t interfering, then delivered a sizable check (equal to 2/3 of the total spent) to the slate the day before the election.

Locals were also hired to serve as “consultants” and they spread Nestle’s gospel, often without attribution (letters to the editor didn’t identify the writer as a paid consultant, just a citizen).

In addition, Nestle’s legal bullying of opponents has been seen in communities across North America, though it evidenced itself here with an attempt to subpeonea the private financial records of plant opponents.

Given the litany of abuses, legal bullying, misleading statements and lack of responsible resource stewardship (no flow studies were conducted in McCloud until Nestle was forced to), why is the MCSD still hewing to a Nestle-driven schedule for negotiations?

At the very least, the MCSD should give the town – which is finally showing signs of healing – a little breathing room.

Unfortunately, that’s not in the Nestle playbook.

What’s unclear is how the votes on the board will fall; the complexion of the board has changed, and at least one of the members has soured on Nestle after the company stepped out of its last unworkable contract without warning any of the MCSD first.

Trust is hard to come by when one of the negotiating parties treats the other the way a dog treats a bone – which Nestle has done to small rural communities in pretty much every part of the country.

I urge the McCloud Services District – at the very least – to tell Nestle to back off while the town of McCloud figures out what it really wants.

Nestle Eyes Water in Chaffee County, CO – Despite Laws Protecting Basin From Water Removal

Nestle Waters of North America is in the process of cutting a deal with the town of Salida, CO and the Arkansas River Conservation District. The goal? Avoid laws created to prevent the wholesale removal of water from a specific basin.

From Chris Woodka of the Pueblo Chieftan:

Nestle Waters North America, Salida and the Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District are working on a deal that would allow the bottled water giant to ship up to 200 acre-feet of water a year to its Denver plant, possibly to market as spring water.

The spring is located in Nathrop, north of Salida.

Essentially, Nestle would take advantage of the Upper Ark’s augmentation plan to use Salida’s water to replace the water it pumps from a well near a spring on property it is buying near Nathrop. Salida would sell the company excess water for 20 years, and the Upper Ark’s augmentation plan would allow the water to be used to replace flows, since Salida’s water cannot be used outside the city without a change in court decree.

Unfortunately, those charged with protecting the Arkansas River seem happy to see the water leave the basin (from the same story):

Some have asked why the Upper Ark would support moving water from the basin, but Scanga believes bottling water is no different than his family business, meat packing and marketing, where animals are raised on water in one basin, slaughtered and shipped all over the country.

“It’s the same thing, putting water in a bottle or putting water in an animal,” Scanga said.

We’d like to go on record as suggesting bottling water is not the same as raising livestock – and the laws in place seemingly recognize that reality.

Little Local Opposition

I spoke to Pueblo Chieftan reporter Woodka about the deal, and he says local opposition is light; while some have questioned the removal of so much water from the basin – and the odd thinking of Scanga (the man charged with protecting the basin’s water) – there isn’t much in the way of widespread opposition to Nestle’s proposed water mining operation.

Still, even if those charged with protecting the watershed are OK with the removal, the other impacts to the area are the same facing rural communities everywhere.

Truck Impacts to the Area

One of the biggest is an increase in truck traffic: Mapquest tells us Nestle’s Denver plant is approximately 140 miles from Salida, and the story suggests Nestle wants to pull as much as 65 million gallons of water annually. Given an average 6,000 gallon water load (water’s heavy, so tankers typically carry less than a gasoline tanker might), that means the area’s looking at 60 truck trips per day (30 trucks coming and going) – every day of the year.

In addition, the tankers will likely take US 285 – a winding road that takes in several high passes in the Rocky Mountains, a reality which suggests Salida’s going to see a lot more truck traffic in the summer months than the winter.

A Recurring Pattern

This attempt to remove water from the Upper Arkansas River neatly follows Nestle’s operations in other areas; they establish the bottling plant, then begin tapping other water sources in the area – increasing impacts like truck traffic, noise, pollution, and water withdrawals from underground sources – with little or no economic return to the area.

Let’s hope Colorado wakes up before it’s too late.

, , , ,