Cosmo Garvin of the Sacramento News & Review has been monitoring the Nestle water bottling issue in McCloud, and – given the company’s track record elsewhere – didn’t exactly extend the welcome mat to the news that Nestle’s building a water bottling plant in Sacramento.
Here are a few choice breaks from his article:
And what an international company it is!
Nestlé has a track record of pissing people off wherever it chooses to stick its great big water-sucking straw. For years the company was involved in a nasty fight 230 miles north of here, in McCloud, Calif., where residents worried the company would suck their aquifer dry for a fraction of a cent per gallon. And Nestlé has been heavily criticized for privatizing water supplies in the developing world.
What do we get? Forty jobs and $14 million invested in the new plant. And why wouldn’t Nestlé think Sacramento is desirable? After all, they’re going to buy our tap water for cheap and sell it back to us in plastic bottles for 1,000 times what they paid for it. Why wouldn’t they love us?
The company is going to bottle about 150 acre-feet of water every year at its south Sac “microfactory.” If you’re not sure how much an acre-foot is, imagine a high-school football field in Natomas, under a foot of water. Some of that water will be trucked in from springs in the Sierra foothills, to be bottled and sold under the Arrowhead brand. But most of it, about 90 acre-feet, or 30 million gallons, will be bottled and sold under Nestlé’s Pure Life brand.
Nestlé will pay the city’s industrial rates for water: $.9854 for every 748 gallons, according to Kemp. Down at the local Safeway, a 24-pack of half-liter bottles of their water-flavored water fetches $3.99. That works out to about $38 million paid by consumers for about $37,000 worth of tap water, with some packaging, shipping and press releases thrown in.
Nestle is encountering stiff opposition in almost every new water bottling and extraction venue it’s in right now (witness the unexpectedly fierce opposition they encountered in Chaffee County, which discovered Nestle was offering up wholly misleading economic analysis alongside its permit).
Are they now due for a beating in Sacramento? Does this signal a retrenchment from the company regarding its rural bottling activities?