Tag Archives: nestle bottled water

Climate Change Questions Go Unanswered in Nestle’s Chaffee County Water Extraction Project

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?

No Decision On Nestle Extraction Project in Chaffee County

The first afternoon of deliberations on Nestle’s proposed water extraction project seemed to produce little headway, though quotes in the Colorado Springs Gazette suggest the commissioners are split 2-1 on the issue (perhaps leaning towards acceptance).

The commissioners told county staff to come up with possible conditions for approval of a 1041 land-use permit, but the board appeared divided on the controversial project.

“Nestle has made a decision not to create a lot of economic benefit in Chaffee county,” said Commissioner Tim Glenn. “They are coming in. They are taking a valuable resource out of the system and they are giving very little back in the way of utilizing that resource. That’s a concern of mine.”

The company wants to withdraw 65 million gallons of spring water a year for its Arrowhead brand of bottled water from springs a few miles south of Johnson Village. The company operates 27 bottling plants and taps 50 springs around the country. The water would be trucked to a plant in Denver.

You can read the Gazette story here: No decision yet on Nestle bid to tap spring water | county, nestle, commissioners – Colorado Springs Gazette, CO.

Guest Opinion on Oregon Live Asks Why Resource Laws Don’t Apply to Water Bottling Companies

A guest opinion on the Oregon Live Web site touches on a host of water bottling issues that are not mentioned by bottlers themselves; what happens when all that waters leaves the state or county it was bottled in?

And why is it resource laws no longer seem to apply once water is put in a bottle?

Protecting Oregon’s water – OregonLive.com

The quest for water in the Northwest by Nestle is just one more indication that Oregonians need to step up to the plate and take seriously the stewardship of water in the state. By law, Oregonians own the water. But without a comprehensive state plan and vigilance on the part of citizens, we may soon be faced with an alarming amount of our water going out of state or even out of country.

Few are aware that three of the world’s largest private water bottlers are currently or soon may be taking our water and selling it for as much as 1,500 percent profit.

WalMart bottles artesian water from Cove to sell under its private
label across the country. CocaCola is in the middle of its plant
expansion in Wilsonville, where it will be bottling the Willamette
River as its Dasani brand. And now we may be faced with Nestle, the
Swiss multinational corporation, buying water as a municipal ratepayer
of Cascade Locks, bottling it and shipping it out of state.

It seems that these corporations have found a loophole in Oregon
statutes. ORS 537.810(1) states that “no waters of the state arising
within a basin shall be diverted, impounded or in any manner
appropriated for diversion or use outside the boundaries of that basin
except on the express consent of the Legislative Assembly.” Apparently,
once the water is capped in bottles, it becomes a product rather than a
natural resource.

Nevermind the private corporations and their 20-ounce bottles. What if
out-of-state interests come knocking, fill bladders that hold tens of
thousands of gallons of water and ship them by way of trucks or barges
to places for sale? Will these be considered products and therefore not
prohibited under Oregon law? We’ve heard that communities across the
Columbia River from Cascade Locks in Washington are running out of
water. And we’ve known for years that California has its eye on
Columbia River water.

As The Oregonian reported in 2008, U.S. District Judge Malcolm
Marsh, who has presided over Columbia River salmon disputes for years,
warned that other states might come after the Columbia as global
warming shrinks their water supplies.

“I don’t think those ideas have died,” he said. “I think they’re very, very much in sleep mode right now.”

He warned Northwesterners to settle their differences over fish and
water so they’re unified if other states with more political power come
calling. “You don’t want them to come up here in a situation of chaos,”
he said. “You want them to come up here in a situation of agreement.”

All of this indicates an immediate need for Oregon to draft a
comprehensive plan that addresses priorities and revisits state water
law. Its guiding principle must be to protect and provide clean water,
a human and watershed right, for current and future generations of
Oregonians. Oregon’s water shouldn’t be sold to the highest bidder.
Sen. Jackie Dingfelder, Reps. Jefferson Smith and Bob Jenson are to be
commended for starting the work. Now, we must all participate in this
critical conversation.

Nancy Matela is co-host of “The Water Spot” on Cable Metro Community Access Channel 11 in Portland.

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Interview With Four Communities Targeted by Nestle Waters’ Water Bottling Operation

The good folks at Corporate Accountability International published a transcript of an interview with the leaders of four different community groups – all of whom are dealing with the unwelcome attentions of Nestle Waters of North America’s bottled water operations.

As you read these, notice the similarities between their stories – despite the fact the communities are separated by the width of a continent. Nestle’s template includes sneaking in under the run, dividing communities, and dangling too few jobs for too little money.

First, Deborah Lapidus of Wisconsin recounts her group’s hard-fought victory over Nestle’s intention to build a water bottling plant:

Transcript: National Press Call – Nestle Week of Action | Corporate Accountability International

So, how did this happen? Nestlé, which was then called Perrier Group of America muscled itself into our community. It foresaw $1 million a day sales of a product that cost the company essentially nothing and that was bottled so-called spring water. Nestlé promised to bring jobs to the area and they kept repeating the philosophy that development equals progress. It looked like our local zoning might be up for sale. However, many citizens when they found out what was happening, they valued our natural setting and they saw through all the corporate lies and they were insulted by tactics such as offers of money to local officials and an offer of money to the PTO of the little tiny school in the area. Nestlé also bought the prize calf at the county fair and got their picture in the paper. This was really insulting to people.

However, the issue divided neighbors and even families because some of them apparently stood to gain financially but others of us would lose our beautiful environment. Now Nestlé, to make it brief, they abandoned their efforts only after we had massive grassroots action here. We realized that Nestlé was really after something that was very precious to us.

So, what we did included creating and distributing two videos. We garnered the support of many environmental organizations particularly from Madison and the rest of Wisconsin and we had four years of grants from foundations that Concerned Citizens of Newport got.

Finally, as part of our public education project, we got legal assistance, a lot of it was pro bono and this delayed Nestlé’s quest for profit sufficiently that Nestlé turned away from Wisconsin. We regret that our so-called success was to Michigan’s detriment because what they did was they went to Michigan.

Then Terry Swier of Michigan recounts her group’s fight against Nestle’s pumping operation in Mecosta County, which damaged an entire watershed, leading to several lawsuits – including Nestle’s infamous lawsuit designed to severely curtail the rights of Michigan citizens to file environmental lawsuits:

Over eight years ago, MCWC organized, stood up to and challenged a large corporation, Nestlé that wanted to bottle our spring water and ship it to other states and countries for its own profit. Our lives have changed since Nestlé came to Michigan with plans to pump 720,000 gallons per day of spring water from a private hunting preserve, pipe it to its plant, bottle it and ship it out of the Great Lakes Basin for its own profit. Nestlé’s pumping has lowered a stream, two lakes and adjacent wetlands.

MCWC, Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation, has spent over a million dollars in court cost and lawyer and environmental expert fees. Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation has taken Nestlé to court to prove that water belongs to the people and ask for adjustment of Nestlé’s pumping levels to prevent environmental impacts. Nestlé has continued to run communities dry in more ways than one. MCWC is again heading back to circuit court in July 2008 to ask the judge to adjust Nestlé’s pumping limits.

Friendships had been severed as people took sides in the Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation versus Nestlé battle. Nestlé did interrogative telephone polling, asking questions about MCWC and its president. Nestlé sent private investigators to homes of people who had signed MCWC’s referendum asking intimidating questions. Nestlé has threatened a potential strategic lawsuit against public participation known as a slap suit against my son.

Throughout all of these, Nestlé proposed to be a good neighbor company to our area yet it continues to pump at high rates during periods of lower precipitation and recharge.

Next we heard from Debra Anderson of McCloud, who recounted her experience once Nestle came to town:

A special town meeting had been called to discuss the Nestlé project and many people came out so that they could actually understand what the project was, voiced their concerns and their comments and get questions asked and people were just like I said shocked when at the end of that meeting, the gavel was struck and the contract was signed for 100 years. Many felt that the public profits had been circumvented and that the deal was actually struck behind closed doors with Nestlé prior to the meeting.

This contract was egregious for numerous reasons. Not only did it give Nestlé the right to 1,600 acre-feet of spring water but it also gave them an unlimited amount of ground water. It was an unheard of 100-year contract for less than a tenth of a cent a gallon. This project would add over 600 truck trips a day, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to our beautiful two-lane scenic volcanic highway. That meant that a truck would be leaving McCloud every three minutes around the clock.

They would destroy our historical mill site by tearing down all of the remaining historical buildings and McCloud is known to being a historical mill town. Not only would they be changing the integrity of our town but also our way of life but most of all, this contract was taking the control of our water away from the local people. Nestlé had truly treated our community as though we were a third world country and this all came on the guise of boosting our economy by creating jobs which, in reality, were too few jobs for too little pay.

Finally, Ann Winn-Wentworth of Maine – vice chair of POWWR (Protecting Our Water and Wildlife) shared her experience helping to pass a rights-based water extraction ordinance in two small Maine towns:

In February of 2008, Nestlé began public hearings in Shapleigh to pave the way for large scale water extraction from our local aquifer which is on a 4000-acre Vernon Walker Land Preserve and it was discovered that those monitoring wells had been there for over three years and none of us were made aware of it. This is on land that must remain in its natural state. It was purchased with federal funds to always remain in its natural state. Many of us care deeply for this preserve and we’re [up in arms] to learn that the State of Maine who manages this land would allow a foreign corporation to go in, cut trees and install wells without any notification. Both towns, Shapleigh and Newfield, share this preserve and we were gravely concerned.

POWWR recently got their ordinance – though they had to call a special town meeting to do it – and now they’re waiting for the other shoe to drop. Will Nestle attempt to challenge the ordinance?

The similarities in the stories above are striking, and there’s little question that Nestle’s approach to small rural communities – despite the “good neighbor” happy talk – is a largely predatory one.

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Citizens Demand Nestle “Stop Fooling With Community Water Supplies”

With Nestle’s Shareholder meeting fast approaching (April 23), citizen’s groups are ramping up their media campaigns.

They’re hoping to apply pressure to the giant multinational, who – given their legal firepower and propensity for factionalizing communities – seems only responsive to bad PR (and rarely that).

Corporate Accountability International published a joint letter from local activists (including activists from California, Michigan, Maine and Florida) calling on the company to stop its abusive business practices in rural communities:

BOSTON – In the lead-up to Nestlé’s annual shareholders’ meeting this April 23rd, a storm is gathering around the business practices of the world’s largest water bottler. Communities across the country have long been engaged in struggles with the bottling giant over control of local water resources. Now many of these struggles are coming to a head and a national campaign called Think Outside the Bottle is using April Fools Day to call on the corporation to, “stop fooling with community water supplies.”

“For years Nestlé employed a range of tactics to wrest water rights from rural communities and downstream users, keeping its abuses out of sight and out of mind to the public,” said Deborah Lapidus, campaigns director for Corporate Accountability International. “Well, affected communities have now made it clear there is a pattern that needs to stop.”

Unfortunately – with significant profits at stake – Nestle isn’t stopping, a fact noted by Maine’s Anne Wenworth:

“When one tactic fails, Nestlé changes things up and tries another,” said Anne Wentworth, of Protect Our Water and Wildlife Resources in Shapleigh, Maine. “What doesn’t change is the resolve of our communities to keep water under local control. We know all too well what happens when that changes.”

As Michigan’s Jim Olsen noted, when Nestle loses on one front, they pick right up and come back at you from a different angle.

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UK Government Report Predicts Up To 80% Reduction in River Flows by Mid-Century

Everyone who believes that selling water to a bottling company like Nestle Waters of North America right now isn’t a bad idea, take a gander at this report from the UK (via WaterSISWEB) – which suggests rivers could suffer 80% reductions in mid-summer flows by mid-century:

Rivers during the summer could have up to 80 per cent less water in them by the middle of this century, leaving the country facing widespread drought, according to a new government report to be published this week.

Think your water resources are secure even in the face of climate change? Think again:

Officials said they were keen to avoid repeating the mistakes that have been made in other countries such as Australia, where they are already suffering severe drought due to rising temperatures blamed on climate change.

By combining detailed modelling of summer and winter rainfall – using predictions taken from the widely recognised Hadley Centre’s Global Circulation Models – with geological data, the agency has produced maps that reveal the full extent of the impact that climate change could have on the country’s waterways.

“We were shocked at how fundamental the shift in our water base will be,” said Trevor Bishop, head of water resource policy for the Environment Agency.

“It will effect both the way we manage our water supplies and have a significant impact on the habitats and species that we have come to accept here in the UK.

As I noted in my recent radio interview, few rural towns are codifying adaptive management techniques into their water deals. And as we learned from Mecosta County – where Nestle’s pumping dried up wetlands – Nestle Water isn’t all that interested in stopping the pumps once the profits start flowing (despite all the resource-friendly rhetoric).

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Opposition Grows to Nestle Project in Chaffee County Colorado – But Is It Too Late?

At first, there was little organized opposition to Nestle’s water pumping project in Chaffee County, CO (the local online news site has assembled a project crib sheet).

Now, as residents focus on the lack of economic benefits – and start to recognize the traffic and environmental impacts – organized opposition is growing.

In an area where residents remember wells and springs drying up during the last drought, we’re seeing Nestle portray their project as wholly sustainable – while ignoring questions raised by professionals less convinced of their science (sadly, citizens now suggest the critical report wasn’t made easily available to the public, a troubling development).

While Nestle’s predictably rosy surveys are widely available, the consultant (mentioned above) was hired by the county, and they’re far less sanguine.

In several cases, the consultant raises the specter of future droughts and climate change, and Nestle’s response revolves around the following concept: we’re not required to consider that.

The consultant also questions Nestle’s short-term pumping surveys – especially given Nestle’s desire to pump more water in the summer months, when impacts to wetlands and coldwater species can be significant.

As in other rural areas, Nestle stands to profit handsomely (one estimate suggests $60+ million from this project), yet Chaffee County receives only a trickle of revenue – and all the negative impacts.

Even residents outside the county are recognizing they will suffer impacts from Nestle’s project without benefiting.

There is even an allegation of Nestle-friendly reporting in a local newspaper – a commonly heard complaint in rural communities split by Nestle, where publishers may be reluctant to anger citizens or a potential advertiser.

After reading the submitted application and Nestle’s response to criticism, it’s clear that the issues are similar to those experienced in other rural communities; regardless of community feelings about a project, Nestle’s focus remains on completing application requirements, and those are the only criteria they use to justify their actions.

In Fryeburg, Nestle’s project received approval not because it was a low-impact project suited for placement in a rural residentially zoned area, but because Fryeburg’s zoning laws weren’t specific enough to

In the case of Chaffee County, there’s no provision in the 1041 permitting process for citizens who simply don’t want to suffer the impacts of a pumping project – even when the benefits are so few.

Nestle Bottled Water Sales in Decline

Nestle’s water bottling operation is finally losing ground. So how secure are all those jobs they dangle in front of rural communities?

After Double-Digit Growth, Sales Fall 1.6%

Worldwide, Nestle reported a “continued slowdown of the bottled water category” and frankly, it’s about time. From the CBC News site:

Sales of bottled water are slipping across North American and Europe, giant food company Nestlé Waters reported Thursday.

Water sales for the company, part of the Nestlé conglomerate, fell 1.6 per cent in 2008, the parent company reported. Profit margins in the bottled water business also fell.

The company, which says it is the leading bottled water company in the world with 72 brands, linked the sales drop to “the continued slowdown of the bottled water category,” while the profit margin fell because of higher costs for plastic and distribution.

But for the anti-bottled-water activists at the Polaris Institute, the drop is proof that their “Inside the Bottle” campaign is working. The institute says its campaign highlights the environmental, health, social and economic impacts of bottled water and calls for the rebuilding and maintenance of public tap water systems.

The Nestlé Waters result shows that consumers are rejecting bottled water, Richard Girard, Polaris research co-ordinator, said in a news release.

“Across the country municipalities, universities, churches, restaurants and unions are kicking out the bottled and turning on the tap.”

Note that we didn’t get a breakout of the specific drop in North American bottled water sales in this story, though I wonder if we’ll see Nestle taking a bigger hit in North America than Europe.

The larger implications; Nestle dangles jobs in front of small rural communities. What happens, we ask, when that market continues to implode?

We’ve already watched 78 workers in Calistoga lose their job over the holidays due to a slowing bottled water market; how much of a decline in the market is needed to start closing other bottled water lines?

Read the entire article at Drop in bottled water sales encourages activists.

“Tapped” Movie Trailer Kicks Serious Bottled Water Butt

Invest 341 seconds of your day and watch the hard-hitting trailer for Tapped – a bottled water documentary. Note especially the references to Fryeburg and Nestle-branded bottled water (Poland Spring, Arrowhead, etc).


The money quote? Jim Wilfong of Maine lays it on the line:

“We are the children of revolutionary war solidiers, and we are not going to give this up without a fight”

When you’re done, make sure to forward this trailer to others.

Nestle Waters Seeking New Negotiation With McCloud; Town Says “Not So Fast”

Nestle’s proposed water bottling plant in McCloud has been the subject of two recent meetings of the McCloud Services District (MCSD), and while the outcome remains unclear, what is apparent is McCloud’s ardor for a Nestle water bottling plant has cooled.

Little wonder; after five years of Nestle’s fractious, town-dividing interference in local politics, the residents are simply suffering from Nestle Fatigue. At the most recent McCloud Services District meeting, the directors spoke of proceeding cautiously (if at all), and prevaling public opinion was to take a long breather, or dump Nestle entirely.

In fact, the only real decisive action was to ask to speak to someone higher up the Nestle food chain, Nestle operative Dave Palais apparently having worn out his welcome. Witness this from Charlie Unkefer of the Mount Shasta Herald:

After almost three hours of board discussion, a review of communications – letters submitted to the board prior to the meeting, expressing a myriad of opinions – and public comment, the board passed a motion 5-0 to “address the issues with higher level Nestle executives.”

Though the issue listed on the meeting agenda cited “discussion/action regarding a request… to enter into new contract negotiations,” the motion passed focused only on continued dialogue, with  a tone of caution prevailing.

Director Tim Dickinson, who first brought the issue to the table in his opening comments on the project, noted,  “What I need is a conversation with the executive level of Nestle to find out what direction they are going in… I would hate to go six months or one or two  years and then have the contract dropped. My idea is to have that contact and have discussion.”

Farther down the story, the idea of a “community survey” reared its head, though director Schoenstein should be commended for resisting Nestle’s pressure negotiating tactics (that have worked so well in other rural towns):

Schoenstein also expressed his interest in conducting a thorough survey of the community’s desires around the issue. “We need to know where the public stands,” he stated, emphasizing that this information would better inform the board as they continue their discussions with Nestle.  However, Schoenstein remained cautious. “There is no need to hurry or fear that if we don’t (re-negotiate now) that Nestle will leave.”

Clearly, Nestle’s attempts to speed back into negotiations for a water bottling plant aren’t working. Moreover, the whole McCloud fiasco has cost them bitterly in terms of time, bad press, and yes – money. In the past, I’ve commented on Nestle’s unwillingness to alter their business template to meet the needs of small rural communities. That seems true in the current situation; they’re not offering the town any incentive to enter into negotiations, and to their credit several of the MCSD Board of Directors seem to recognize it.

New Report Outlines Nestlé’s Pursuit of Community Water (and Profits)

Nestle’s treatment of rural communities won’t qualify them for any “good neighbor” awards anytime soon – a sad fact chronicled in a new Food & Water Watch report on water extraction activities in North America.

From their site:

Food & Water Watch’s report, “All Bottled Up: Nestlé’s Pursuit of Community Water,” reveals the loss  communities experience when a plant shows up in a small town.

Consider that…

Bottled water is overpriced, it’s no purer or safer than tap water, Nestlé is profiting off of communities and their precious resource — groundwater, and water bottles end up — by the millions — as worthless trash.

Did you know that…

Nestle takes the groundwater for next to nothing and makes extraordinary profits from the community’s loss? Communities are taking on the food giant — AND WINNING. Empty Nestlé bottles are piling up in landfills? Communities are getting smart about Nestlé and passing legislation to stop harmful water extraction from their towns?

Food & Water Watch and activists favor the efforts of policymakers to…

Develop comprehensive groundwater protection and conservation laws and regulation, require labels about the sources of bottled water and contaminants, adress environmental harm from producing bottled water and disposal of empty bottles, and assist residents and communities in protecting their groundwater from Nestlé.

Read more at: All Bottled Up: Nestlé’s Pursuit of Community Water — Food & Water Watch.