A cute, simple video explaining how the demand for bottled water was created – and why it’s largely illusory.
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).
The much-anticipated January 12 McCloud Services District (MCSD) meeting – where Nestle Waters wanted the board to enter into new negotiations with the company – found Nestle receiving a tepid welcome from the board, and a largely negative response from residents.
Ultimately, the MCSD board decided to put off making any decisions for two weeks, and many residents (and board member Brian Stewart) even questioned the need to deal with this issue within two weeks (a commenter on the Siskiyou Daily Web site asked why the MCSD was once again letting Nestle set the agenda).
After the directors had their say, many members of the audience stood up to speak. The first speaker began by saying that the MCSD should “think about what is best for McCloud, not just the MCSD.” She went on to say that she believes that there are other economic opportunities in McCloud’s future, adding that she believes that the people of McCloud don’t have enough information to make an informed decision on the issue.
The speaker said that she ultimately wants the MCSD to tell Nestlé, “Don’t call us, we’ll call you,” which met with applause from one half of the room.
After many speakers in opposition to moving forward with negotiations or simply opposition to having a bottling plant, some stood up to speak either in favor of the project, or at least keep it as a viable option.
Brought up at the meeting was a recent California Supreme Court Decision which mandates an Environmental Impact Review before a contract is signed on any project having an appreciable impact on ecosystems, watersheds or other environmental systems.
While the MCSD could certainly negotiate a contract with Nestle without signing it until the EIR was complete, because Nestle did zero flow monitoring and environmental review prior to this year, the EIR won’t be complete for some time.
This leaves us asking the MCSD – what’s the rush? Why decide to enter into negotiations in two weeks when there simply won’t be any clear idea how much water is available?
It’s rare when a Nestle Waters of North America spokesperson speaks in a public forum where their conclusions can be questioned, but Nestle/Poland Spring operative Mark Dubois posted several comments to this Maine blog – including one where Nestle’s spin plays out in all its glory.
He positions Poland Spring as a Maine company (it’s been a Nestle “brand” since the company was purchased by Nestle), and mischaracterizes opposition to the Fryeburg loading station thusly:
Any suggestion that Fryeburg has repeatedly said no to a truck loading station ignores the fact that the planning board approved our application in 2005 after a lengthy process and thoroughly written decision after numerous public hearings. The appeal of that decision by
a small number of opponents in town is what has triggered the series of appeals since that time. The matter is now pending in the Maine Law Court and everyone is hoping that the Court’s decision will put this matter to rest.
My response to Nestle’s spin?
First, the original permit was issued in a way that suggests poor public process (which follows Nestle around like a shadow). It was written by one person on the planning commission – the same person who later secretly advised Nestle what was happening in the town via email – a relationship Nestle/Poland Spring (wasn’t it you, sir?) denied even
existed before a reporter produced the emails.
The original appeal was hardly the work of a “small number of opponents” (the same characterization used by Nestle elsewhere to minimize opposition). Those opponents “won” that appeal because a truck loading station doesn’t belong in a residentially zoned area, and further, that victory didn’t somehow “trigger” a string of appeals – Nestle/Poland Springs filed a lawsuit and four subsequent appeals (the fourth is being heard right now).
And yes, Nestle has lost every one.
If anyone wishes to see YouTube video of Nestle/Poland Spring’s lawyers arguing before the Maine Supreme Court that their right to grow market share superceded the town’s right of local control, then simply go here.
Finally, Mr. Dubois, as for your statement that: “The matter is now pending in the Maine Law Court and everyone is hoping that the Court’s decision will put this matter to rest.”
This could have been put to rest a long time ago if Nestle hadn’t tried bully the town of Fryeburg through legal means, and yet you act as if your multinational corporation somehow has no choice in the matter.
This could all end right now, Mr. Dubois – if only Nestle/Poland Spring would drop its lawsuit. Nobody’s forcing your multinational to continue its lawsuit, and what’s clear is that Nestle is willing to use extraordinary legal means to deny Fryeburg the right to say “no” to a truck loading station in residentially zoned areas.
If anyone has anything to add to Mr. Dubois’ perspective, feel free to visit Seavey’s blog, read the string of comments, and leave one of your own (respectful) comment.
Powered by ScribeFire.
According to Schenectady’s Daily Gazette newspaper, Nestle just received permission to drill test wells in the Johnstown watershed in its search for yet another bottling site.
Nestle Waters North America, owner of Poland Spring, Deer Park and other brands of spring water, will drill wells in the Johnstown watershed as part of its exploration for a new bottling site.
The Johnstown Common Council voted unanimously this week to give the company permission to drill wells near the city reservoirs located in the Adirondack foothills northwest of the city.
Nestle Waters, which also owns Perrier, is testing water at a number of sites nationally, including on the Canajoharie watershed in Ephratah where drilling began last summer.
The Canajoharie watershed nearly abuts the Johnstown watershed.
Mayor Sarah J. Slingerland said the company will test for quality and volume. She said she expects drilling to begin in the near future.
Unfortunately, the area’s economic development entity – like so many before them – is buying into Nestle’s promises, hook, line and sinker:
Lisa McCoy, marketing director of the Fulton County Economic Development Corp., said Nestle will choose a site and set up a plant that could employ between 50 and 300 people depending on water volume.
Given Nestle’s dismal record of meeting employment promises elsewhere, does anyone want to guess which number (50 or 300) is the more realistic – especially once the non-local “management teams” are helicoptered in to dole out the sub-living-wage jobs to locals?
I left a comment beneath the newspaper story (it required a very short registration process). If you have a minute, consider leaving one too. The more the folks of Johnsontown hear from others who are dissatisfied with Nestle’s presence in their own towns, the better informed they’ll be.
Powered by ScribeFire.
In an attempt to protect its up-for-reneweal well permit in Denmark, Maine (the town next to Fryeburg and the source of the water Nestles wants to pump to a Fryeburg loading station), Nestle/Poland Spring have taken to running regular advertising, a close look at which is illuminating:
Note the use of “local” throughout the ad. It’s a recurring theme with Poland Springs: “We’re a Maine company” or “we’re a local company” messages abound, ignoring the fact that Nestle is the world’s largest food and beverage corporation.
Make no mistake; the profits from the sale of the water extracted in Denmark don’t stay local – they flow directly to corporate headquarters, and the town’s water resource is practically given away in return for… well, not even jobs in this case (it’s a well).
Defining $26,000 as “significant” tax revenue is a stretch, even by
small town standards. In truth, wells and loading stations deliver few
benefits to local economies (unless you define truck traffic, noise and
diesel pollution as “benefits”).
Our pick for “Nestle’s Most Astonishing Doublespeak of the Day?”
Given that one town away – in Fryeburg – Nestle/Poland Spring are actively trying to usurp local control through extraordinary legal means (they’ve sued/appealed the Fryeburg Planning Commission’s “no” decision five times).
At one point they argued that their right to grow market share superseded the town’s right to say “no.”
Respecting local control?
Only when it’s Nestle pulling the strings.
Powered by ScribeFire.
In an attempt to mitigate the traffic impacts of Nestle’s proposed water bottling plant in McCloud, a highly respected McCloud businessman crafted a railroad transportation plan, and thought he’d created a solution that worked for everyone.
When he took his idea to Nestle, he met a wall of indifference to point where several meetings were canceled at literally the last minute.
While it remains to be seen if Forbis’ solution would have worked, the episode this angered locals who wanted to see the area’s railroad heritage respected – and didn’t want to see 300 trucks per day rolling in and out of town.
Forbis [ed: the local businessman and owner of the McCloud Railroad] then went on to describe his negotiations with Nestle over the years about the train servicing the proposed bottling plant as being “coolly received” by the water bottling company. Though admitting that an outside assessment of his company’s ability to ship Nestle’s bottled water from McCloud came up with economic figures which “weren’t what I had hoped for,” he described to the board a history of failed negotiations with Nestle which included Nestle cancelling meetings with him at the last minute.
Nestle’s Dave Palais responded by saying, “What Jeff said is correct. We did have missteps in getting Jeff to talk with our logistics people. We did have a couple meetings scheduled that got cancelled. It frustrated Jeff and it frustrated me. But you can’t just come to a company without a detailed concept. I told Jeff that early on… [Nestle] has had bad experiences with rail… problems with rail delivery schedules.”
Board member Al Schoenstein told Palais, “It appears that a serious effort wasn’t made to talk to Jeff… You probably could have worked with him more seriously, it would have been a ‘good neighbor’ policy to work with Jeff… He did go to meetings where nobody was there to meet him.”
One audience member told Forbis, “You’ve gone out of your way with Nestle, they’ve been dangling a carrot before us to get a contract. It’s a game.”
Now that Nestle’s original plans for a million-square-foot water bottling plant have been scrapped, the world’s largest food and beverage company wants to enter into new negotiations with McCloud, yet several missteps have led to a growing chorus of locals calling for local economic development – businesses more accountable to the community.
Many want to revisit the municipally owned water bottling plant idea that was rejected by the same McCloud Services District Council who negotiated the original (and wholly lopsided) Nestle contract.
It’s clear that Nestle’s latest PR efforts revolve heavily around a “good corporate neighbor” message. In fact, their just-released Corporate Citizenship Report features the title “The Shape of Citizenship” and a subhead of “Creating Shared Value.”
Sadly, where it counts, Nestle’s “good neighbor” policy falls far short of the hype – especially when it comes to respecting the local values and culture of a rural community.
Powered by ScribeFire.
After being unceremoniously shown the door by the Washington town of Enumclaw, Nestle has turned to the nearby town of Orting, proposing a water bottling plant there.
Based on the story published in Tacoma’s News Tribune, one member of the city council is already making “yes” noises while another is cautious about a deal with Nestle (does this sound familiar?):
Councilman Dick Ford said he’s concerned about Orting giving away its spring water, which he said is a precious natural resource the town should safeguard for future generations.
“It was under our parents’ and our grandparents’ stewardship, and now it’s under our stewardship,” Ford said. “It was passed to us, and we ought to protect it and pass it on.”
Unfortunately, he’s facing the same Nestle talking points that have worked so effectively in other communities: Nestle gets the water essentially for free by dangling the possibility of a few jobs – the best-paying of which will be filled by out-of-area workers.
The plant would employ 53 people, as well as create 42 to 58 other jobs that would support the facility, Kemp said.
“That’s essentially money that could stay in Orting,” Kemp told the City Council on Wednesday.
First, let’s be clear; the profits realized from the extraction of Orting’s water exit the community faster than you can say “multinational corporation.”
I put a call into the reporter who wrote the story, which doesn’t mention any opposition to the plant outside of the lone city councilman.
We’ll bring you more on Orting as we hear it.
Powered by ScribeFire.
While Nestle’s ads in the local papers refuse to acknowledge what they’re doing in Fryeburg (that’s five lawsuits/appeals and counting), the reality is this: the multinational has behaved badly towards this tiny rural town, which simply said “no” to Nestle’s attempt to build a 100 truck-trips-per-day truck loading station in a residential area.
Nestle responded with a series of suits and appeals, at one point essentially arguing in front of the Maine Supreme Court that their right to grow market share superseded the town’s right to say “no.”
Incidents like this put the lie to Nestle’s newly formulated “we’re a good corporate neighbor” public relations campaign, which is apparently what you do when you’re unwilling to alter your business model for a less predatory stance.
In June of 2005: Nestlé Waters North America submitted an application to the Fryeburg Planning Board to construct a trucking facility in a Rural Residential District. The site would be used to load up to 50 eighteen-wheeler water tanker trucks over a 24 hour period, seven days a week, 365 days a year with water extracted from the neighboring town of Denmark. All trucks would enter onto a section of Rt 302 that is identified by the Maine Department of Transportation as a high crash location.
On October 19, 2005: the Fryeburg Planning Board approved a 16 page result orientated decision drafted by only one member of the board and not shared with all members of the Planning Board until the night of the vote.
A loose knit group on citizens formed, calling themselves “Western Maine Residents for Rural Living.” The group hired an attorney and exercised their democratic right to file an appeal to the Fryeburg Zoning Board of Appeals in regards to the Planning Board’s decision.
On January 27, 2006: the Fryeburg Zoning Board of Appeals denied Nestlé’s permit issued by the Planning Board.
On March 21, 2006: Nestlé Waters North America Inc, as plaintiff, filed suit in the Oxford County Superior Court system against the Inhabitants of the Town of Fryeburg, Maine, the Board of Appeals of Said Town and Western Maine Residents for Rural Living.
On August 9, 2006: Superior Court Justice Roland A. Cole remanded the case back to the Fryeburg Planning Board for additional findings and conclusions on key points brought up by the citizens of Fryeburg in 2005.
On August 24, 2006: Nestlé does not follow Judge Cole’s remand, and instead filed suit in the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. Nestlé Waters North America v. Inhabitants of the Town of Fryeburg and Western Maine Residents for Rural Living.
On July 24, 2007: After numerous filing of briefs and oral testimony by both parties, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court concludes that because the Superior Court’s remand was not acted on by the Planning Board in Fryeburg, the case was not ripe for them to make a decision. The Court dismissed Nestlé’s arguments.
From July 31 to November 13, 2007: The Fryeburg Planning Board addressed the Superior Court remand and on November, 13 2007 denied Nestlé’s permit.
December 2007: Nestlé filed an appeal of the 2007 Fryeburg Planning Board’s decision to the local Fryeburg Zoning Board of Appeals.
On January 28, 2008: The Fryeburg Zoning Board of Appeals upheld the 2007 Planning Board decision and denies Nestlé a permit again.
On March 2008: Nestlé sued the town of Fryeburg again in the Maine Superior Court, Nestle Waters North America Inc v. Inhabitants of the Town of Fryeburg and Western Maine Residents for Rural Living.
On July 31, 2008: Judge Cole of the Maine Superior Court denied Nestlé a permit.
On September 25, 2008: Nestlé Waters North America Inc brings suit again to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. Nestlé Waters North America Inc appellant v. Town of Fryeburg, Maine and Western Maine Residents for Rural Living, appellees.
As of October 17, 2008: The Supreme Court is awaiting the brief of Western Maine Residents for Rural Living.
At StopNestleWaters.org, we have to ask – is Nestle avaricious beyond all reason, or are they simply inept?
In Fryeburg, they’ve created a PR problem that simply isn’t going to go away – at least not as long as they’re suing the town in an attempt to force their truck loading station on it.
Powered by ScribeFire.
The first of our StopNestleWaters.org e-newsletters went out this morning, and while our email list has grown gratifyingly quickly, there’s always room for more (you can sign up in the left-hand sidebar, or by clicking here).
In addition to highlighting the past month’s most significant stories, the StopNestleWaters.org e-newsletter also offers a glimpse at what’s coming – in this case a couple of important stories about Nestle’s souring relationship with the citizens of McCloud, and Nestle/Poland Spring’s need to run advertising in Denmark to counter the rising anti-Nestle tide.
Plus we’re working on a perspective piece that gets right to the root of the Nestle problem: despite their protestations that they’re a good corporate neighbor, Nestle’s largely dismissive of local citizens, local businesses, local values and local needs.
That will be published first to our e-Newsletter list, and then on the site.
Don’t miss it.