Tag Archives: salida

Chaffee County Commissioners Approve Nestle Water Extraction Project… With 40 Stipulations Attached

Despite overwhelming citizen opposition; despite the county commissioners’s admission that Nestle’s application was lacking; despite the numerous flaws in Nestle’s “analysis” exposed by independent consultants; and despite the utter absence of real baseline water data (Nestle’s pumping tests lasted only three days), Chaffee County (CO) approved Nestle’s 65 million gallons a year water extraction project 3-0.

From the Salida Citizen online news site (which has provided excellent coverage of the entire process):

SALIDA, CO – The biggest land use case in Chaffee County history essentially came to a close today when the Chaffee County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to approve a commercial water harvesting project in this rural river community in the mountains of south central Colorado.nestle

Members of both sides of the debate were reserved in their reaction to the decision granting Nestle Waters North America conditional approval to extract 65 million gallons of springwater annually from an aquifer at the mouth of the renowned Brown’s Canyon stretch of the Arkansas River. The water will be piped four miles to a truck loading station where it will then be transported two hours to Denver for bottling then sold to consumers as Nestle’s Arrowhead brand of bottled water.

The approval includes 40 conditions, totaling 11 pages and addressing what the commissioners considered some of the most controversial aspects of the proposal, namely water and economics.

Make no mistake – Nestle prevailed in this case not because their permit met the letter of the law or because of the economic benefits to the area (there simply aren’t many).

Instead, Nestle rolled quietly into town and recruited key political figures to their cause – long before citizens were even aware a project was planned.

It’s a recurring theme for the Swiss multinational – one that allows them to pull off projects even in the face of overwhelming citizen opposition.

In this case, the County Commissioners bent over backwards to accommodate the multinational – even after it was revealed (by the county’s own independently hired consultants) that Nestle’s economic analysis was wrong (or intentionally biased); its baseline environmental data was absent; and its record elsewhere was awful.

Instead of kicking Nestle’s water extraction project to the curb, the commissioners sat down and created 40 conditions (11 pages of them) Nestle would have to meet before approving Nestle’s permit.

Commissioner Frank Holman – a stanch Nestle project supporter from the start – lead the Nestle charge (this from the Salida Citizen’s story):

“Holman concluded that the county had imposed some “strict conditions” that addressed those areas of the application that were “nonconforming.”

Astonishingly, Holman later seemingly laid the burden of monitoring the project on Nestle and the county’s citizens – apparently not recognizing that’s his job:

Shortly before the vote, Holman looked directly at Nestle representatives and said that the county will “rely on the permittee to follow the conditions and we believe you will.” He said the county would also rely on the citizens to help monitor the project and thought that, overall, the project would be a benefit to the county.

It’s hard to imagine Chaffee County’s citizens feeling comforted by a statement that odd – especially after they’d made their opposition to the Nestle project heard in public meeting after meeting.

Early Warning

In this case, it wasn’t the job of the commissioners to bring Nestle’s application into compliance, yet the 11 pages of stipulations seems to have done exactly that.

This is how it happens; Nestle’s on-the-ground operative shows up early, identifying and courting those amenable to their project. After that’s done, Nestle’s projects enjoy considerable momentum, even after revelations of wrongdoing elsewhere appear.

As far as Nestle is concerned, the process worked, but that’s because they front-loaded it in their favor.

What’s also true is that Nestle didn’t expect to face this kind of citizen opposition, and – with several other water extraction projects looming in other parts of the state – couldn’t afford to lose this fight.

That’s why rolled out the big guns at a couple of meetings, bringing in high-dollar attorneys and water “experts” to bolster their case.

Ultimately, those high-dollar experts were needed after an economist and ecologist – independently hired by the county to review Nestle’s application – revealed significant problems with Nestle’s application.

Then there was the sudden scramble to “support the community” with a $500,000 endowment. Originally, Nestle’s “support” for the community wasn’t going to extend beyond free bottled water for high school events, but after citizen opposition arose, Nestle’s checkbook appeared quickly (and often).

The Errors (Always Favorable to Nestle) Accumulate

In one instance, Nestle suggested a gas tax benefit would accrue to the county, yet the independent economist pointed out there was no county gas tax. In another instance, Nestle overestimated the property tax benefit to the county by 61%.

An independent ecologist suggested that Nestle’s baseline data on the springs and accompanying wetlands was so lacking that they could never be held accountable for damage due to pumping; they could blithely assert their pumping wasn’t the cause, and just keep going.

This is precisely what happened in Mecosta County (MI) – and it took a citizen’s group lawsuit (to the tune of $1 million over six years) to force Nestle to behave.

Clearly, the county commissioners were afraid that would happen here; opponents of the project successfully forced the commissioners to add a stipulation to the permit which created a mitigation fund designed to compensate the county for expenses related to this project – including legal expenses stemming from lawsuits.

It’s an astonishing condition to attach to a project – and a sign that Nestle’s predatory history in rural towns is finally starting to catch up to it.

In fact, Nestle opponent Jim Ruggles focused on Nestle’s willingness to use legal means to protect its pumping operations:

“I don’t believe the commissioners are representing the best interests of Chaffee County,” said longtime resident and staunch Nestle opponent Jim Ruggles. “My main concern is that (Nestle) will dry out the aquifer and that the county will wind up in litigation sooner or later with Nestle. I believe the commissioners fairly ignored their own consultants and favored Nestle’s presentation of the facts.”

With more extraction deals planned in other communities, Nestle will no doubt fall all over themselves to spread a few dollars around Chaffee County (I’m sure it’s already happening), hoping to bolster their “good neighbor” image.

Still, even as Nestle’s project gets underway, the multinational has to be wondering what bus almost hit them.

They wandered into a sleepy rural town and expected to truck the are’as water back to Denver without so much as a peep of protest.

Instead, they found themselves squeaking by – even as the factual errors and flaws in their incomplete 1041 permit application were exposed.

Nestle’s willingness to put an operative on the ground in a town long before projects become public has paid off again, yet next time, they may not be so lucky:

Sam Schabacker of the national non-profit Food and Water Watch said Colorado’s battle with Nestle is being closely watched around the country and is considered pivotal to the nationwide fight against the privatization of water. “This is the first battleground in the Rocky Mountain West – the arid West – and CCFS has shown great leadership in this national struggle.” Schabacker said the intelligence and dedication CCFS has shown through the application review process puts the organization in a good position to recalibrate and take the fight to the next level, joining the ranks of citizens in Maine, California, Michigan and Flagstaff, AZ.

Read the draft conditions of approval here.
Read the cost mitigations fund report here.

Local Citizens Groups Forming to Prevent Nestle Extraction Projects, Foster Local (Sustainable) Economic Growth

Nestle Waters of North America has long been in the practice of imposing their water extraction business template on small rural communities, typically without much protest. And in truth, water and resource laws rarely offered residents the ability to say “no” to corporations like Nestle.

That reality is changing fast, and in fact, Nestle’s projects across
the United States are coming under fire from residents are agitating
for more local control (and local benefits) from the extraction of
their resources.

Maine Ordinances

As noted in a recent NPR story, Maine’s small town residents are collecting signatures, forcing special town meetings and saying “yes” to ordinances which retain local control of water:

The Alliance For Democracy – Wells, Maine, residents vote this weekend on local versus corporate power

In a recent story on the Maine Public Broadcasting Network, Defending Water for Life organizer Emily Posner defended the ordinance and the thinking behind it: “This type of approach is reflective of a paradigm change that’s happening in our society and our culture around how we want to interface with the economy and the environment and the future,” she said. “We’re seeing people moving away from big box stores and trying to revitalize their local economy, and this is a similar type of approach that’s happening through the political sphere, where we’re trying to re-localize our political infastructure so that we as communities have the right to decide what will actually happen within our town borders.”

Nestle tries to pretend it’s a “local” company by offering up a refrain of “we’re Poland Spring – a local company,” others have noted that Poland Spring isn’t even a corporation in the state of Maine.

Chaffee County’s Sustainability Group

In Chaffee County (CO), Nestle’s water extraction project – which initially promised nothing more to the community than free bottled water to the school – is now facing determined opposition, and to avoid an embarrassing (and precedent-setting) defeat in their first attempt at an extraction project in Colorado, Nestle’s whipping out the checkbook.

Still smarting from a embarrassing series of “errors” in their 1041 application which grossly overstated the economic benefits to the area, Nestle’s also being confronted by a Chaffee County Sustainability Group, who realize that Nestle’s tapping an important resource, delivers few benefits, and could likely harm the formation of local, sustainable businesses.

Suddenly, the “we’ll do what we please” multinational is making noises about a community endowment and announcing local construction contracts right before meetings, and even if Chaffee County’s residents lose the fight against Nestle’s water extraction project, it’s interesting to note how far Nestle’s willing to go (or needs to) just to stay in the ballgame.

McCloud’s Local First Group

Meanwhile, the long-suffering former timber town of McCloud (CA) is still being intentionally factionalized by Nestle’s attempts to build a water bottling plant there, and in fact, Nestle’s operative Dave Palais marginalized opposition at a nearby Rotary Club meeting by saying “There is a small group that is opposed to the project and many are from out of town.”

The “wealthy San Francisco fly fishermen” refrain has been trotted out numerous times by Nestle’s operative, and it’s a pattern that repeats itself often enough elsewhere (including Maine) that it must be simply considered a divisive part of the Nestle playbook.

Belying that claim is the recent formation of a McCloud Local First group whose goal is:

The McCloud Local First Network is dedicated to strengthening McCloud and the local economy by promoting, preserving, and protecting local, independently owned businesses.

We’d humbly suggest that’s not the manifesto you’d expect from a bunch of “wealthy” out-of-towners.

Sustainable Use of Local Resources

While Nestle’s water bottling operations are under assault on both the economic and environmental fronts, it’s likely their biggest fear is playing out right before their eyes: We’re seeing the formation of local citizens groups dedicated to the development of sustainable businesses.

Multinationals which tap local resources (essentially for free) and send all the profits overseas aren’t exactly a part of that picture, and we can expect Nestle to deny that reality with a wave of PR-driven “community” projects.

Those, sadly, will not alter the fundamentally unsustainable nature of Nestle’s water bottling business (extract, truck, bottle, truck, truck, sell, throw away) – nor the multinationals impacts on local communities.

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More on Nestle in Chaffee County From the Colorado Independent

Nestle’s lunge for Chaffee County’s spring water continues to draw interest from the media (which is probably not what Nestle initially envisioned).

It’s become a marathon of public hearings in Chaffee County, and Nestle’s experiencing what it probably likes least: the glare of independent assessments of their promises to the tiny rural area (their assertion the county would enjoy a $80,000 property tax bump was found lacking; the real number falls below $17,000).

In the Colorado Independent, writer David O Williams looks at the larger picture: Nestle bottled-water war heats up in Arkansas River Valley

A water grab by Swiss food and beverage behemoth Nestle is playing out in the county commissioner’s chambers of rural Chaffee County, which is considering issuing a 1041 permit to allow the siphoning of spring water for Nestle’s Arrowhead bottled water.

Enough water to supply about 700 homes would be pulled from springs in the scenic Arkansas River Basin, one of the most heavily rafted and fished rivers in the United States, and trucked up to Denver for bottling for Nestle’s Arrowhead brand.

Officials from the Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District have been battling Nestle’s plan because the Swiss company wants to replace the spring water with water it leased from Aurora, but the Front Range city would retain the right to pull the plug on that deal in the event of a drought.

Finally, a Quince Adams (who appears to be a design student) fired up a short Nestle video, which is what we’re leaving you with today:

STOP NESTLE from Quince Adams on Vimeo.

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More On Nestle’s Chaffee County Water Extraction

Chaffee County’s fifth public meeting over Nestle’s water extraction project ran from 1pm to 11pm, and while Nestle imported some seriously expensive legal talent, the news for the world’s largest food & beverage multinational isn’t all that good.

While Nestle desperately tries to put the wheels back on their Chaffee County extraction project (they seemed to fly off a couple weeks ago when independent consultants started shooting factual holes in Nestle’s proposals), the comment count from residents – and the number of documents submitted – temporarily overwhelmed the county’s computers.

The Salida Citizen’s Lee Hart wrote a comprehensive article detailing the issues facing the project, focusing on eight key issues still in contention.

Two of the issues fall in familiar territory to those who follow’s Nestle’s extraction efforts – the lack of real baseline water data, which could presumably be used to force Nestle to curtail their pumping activities.

Frankly, it’s classic Nestle, who make a lot of noises about stewardship of the resource, but – as we saw in Mecosta County – have to be forced to stop pumping.

From the Salida Citizen story:

Bighorn Springs exclusion. Citing a lack of adequate baseline data, County water counsel Jim Culichia said he recommends excluding the Bighorn Springs from the project. Culichia explained that Nestle is required to “demonstrate no impact” but can’t do so because of a lack of baseline data, which Culichia said is a problem that can’t be remedied by simply monitoring after the  start of the project. Pumping will have some impact on the springs, Culichia said. Without adequate baseline data, when changes to the spring do occur, Nestle could argue that the change was natural rather than a result of Nestle operations which would mean Nestle could avoid mitigating the impacts. Resolution: Unresolved.

Ruby Mountain Springs additional data. Culichia concurred with hydrology consultants Geomega that additional tests would be needed to provide the county with a better idea of the impact to the aquifer under conditions that more closely resemble Nestle’s proposed operational plan. To date, Nestle pump tests have only been performed on one test well while the operational plan indicates two wells will be pumping at the same time. Culichia said Nestle did note it had recently performed a pump test of that well at higher rates but had not shared the data with the county. Importantly, Culichia said the other proposed well that has not undergone tests is closer to the river and the aquifer could, and likely will, react differently when both wells are pumping. Resolution: Unknown at press time.

More importantly, it’s now clear that Nestle’s initial promises of economic benefits to Chaffee County were at best smoke and mirrors – and at worst, the kind of outright fabrication that has dogged the company’s projects in the past.

A sterling example? Nestle initially claimed their project would generate $80,000 in property tax revenue. The real number? Less than $17,000 annually.

It would add $2.4 million in assessed property value, generating more than $18,000 in property taxes for 2010 and more than $500,000 during the next 30 years. [ED: That’s less than $17,000 per year]

Nestle clearly expected an easy ride in Chaffee County, and with multiple extraction projects already in the planning stages for Colorado, they simply can’t afford to lose in Chaffee County. Accordingly, their original promises of “support” to the community were limited to donating cases of bottled water to worthy causes (uhh, gifting the community its own water?).

Now – in the corporate equivalent of a gunslinger’s quickdraw – they’re reaching for their wallet (a good lesson for those communities who are only starting to talk with Nestle; their first offer to you is a sucker deal):

In addition to a $500,000 community endowment, Nestlé committed to an annual giving program and reimbursement of extraordinary county expenditures not covered by tax payments.

Gone completely is the “economic benefit” whereby Nestle’s trucks would buy diesel in the county, supporting the area with fuel taxes. As a consultant pointed out, the county doesn’t receive direct fuel tax payments.


Nestle can still pull this project out of the fire – small rural communities simply lack the kind of regulation needed to say “no” to a multinational with Nestle’s legal firepower – but it’s instructive to look how far the county’s residents have come from the initial stages, which were characterized more by misinformation than real facts.

Given the minimal economic benefits to the area (most of which are fairly short lived) and Nestle’s newly exposed lack of veracity, it’s clear that the company is in the midst of creating yet another PR mess for itself (Fryeburg, ME ring any bells?).

We leave you with an insightful comparison of Nestle’s legal team and Chaffee County residents (from the Salida Citizen):

Nestle SA: $16.61 billion in net profits in 2008; 265,000 employees worldwide.

Brownstein, Hyatt, Farber and Schreck (Nestle legal counsel): 245
attorneys, 450 employees in 12 offices around the US. Billing rates for
legal counsel range from $275 – $750 per hour; average hourly rate
$340, median $325.

Chaffee County: 2009 budget, $22 million; 186 full-time equivalent employees, mean salary, $39,000.

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Chaffee Resident Points Out Nestle’s “Consumptive” Use of Water Double That of ALL Residential Wells in County

A letter to the editor in the Salida Citizen fires up some interesting facts surrounding the Nestle Water Extraction project. It suggests Nestle’s water extraction project – despite repeated denials from the company’s operative – will have a significant effect on the area’s ability to grow. How?

Essentially, household use of water returns about 90% to the aquifer. By contrast, Nestle’s use removes all the water from the area, so even though there’s a downstream “augmentation,” the lack of groundwater in the area could dramatically limit growth.

Read all about it here:

Nestlé withdrawal greater than consumptive use | Salida Citizen

Dear Commissioners Holman, Glenn, and Guise,

Thank you for the opportunity to discuss publicly, during the hearing on April 29th, the fact that the consumptive use of the Nestle Waters spring project is almost double the 2003 consumptive use of all of the residential wells in Chaffee County combined, based on a hydrological report that was one of Nestle Water’s submittals on the chaffeecounty.org website. “Hydrogeology and Quality of Ground Water in the Upper Arkansas River Basin from Buena Vista to Salida, Colorado, 2000-2003”, by Kenneth R. Watts.

The report cites “An estimated 3,443 wells pumped about 690 to 1,240 acre feet for domestic and household use in Chaffee County during 2003.” “Most augmentation plans are based on a consumptive use for domestic-household supply of 10 percent of withdrawal. The remaining 90 percent of domestic-household withdrawals are assumed to be returned to the aquifer through septic systems.” ”If consumptive use is 10 percent of domestic-household withdrawals, then current (2003) consumptive use for domestic-household use is about 69-124 acre feet/yr…” and …”projected 2030 consumptive use would be about 149-304 acre feet/yr.”

Therefore, the Nestle Waters extraction of 200 acre feet/year of 100 percent consumptive use is about double the average of 69-124 acre feet/year of the 2003 combined residential consumptive well use in the county.

This places the project in a different perspective of water use from what the Nestle team has been asserting. Bruce Lauerman keeps insisting that the amount withdrawn of .3 cfs of water is insignificant. I heard Mr. Lauerman say yesterday, almost under his breath, that it is so minimal, it shouldn’t even warrant needing augmentation. This information of actual well use helps highlight the Nestle approach of minimizing the impacts to allay concerns over the water extraction project.

Does this withdrawal from the basin displace future growth in the county, either residential or business? Sustainable growth contributes to commerce and supports infrastructure. Water for growth seems crucial to the future of the valley. Under the permit process, to approve the Nestle Waters project for what would seem to be a “nonessential” use, would be regrettable if it did indeed restrict future opportunities, especially if those involved food production.

Thank you very much,
Jane Browning

Ouch, Nestle. Another hole just appeared in Nestle’s formerly “bulletproof” case.

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Marathon Meeting in Chaffee County Leaves Nestle Issue Unresolved: Public Comments Overwhelmingly Negative

A large number of residents attended a 7.5 hour special meeting in Chaffee County, and the comments – both from the citizens and the independent consultants hired to review the project – were overwhelmingly negative.

From the Mountain Mail newspaper: More negative Nestlé comments offered

Attendance at the 7½-hour special meeting fluctuated between 100 and 300 residents. The meeting began at 1 p.m. and commissioners adjourned to executive session about 9:30 p.m. so they could receive legal advice regarding procedural processes.

By press time it was unknown when the special meeting will reconvene although commissioners earlier said they will accept written comment until May 12.

Nestlé needs the land use permit to develop the water supply from two springs near Nathrop. The company needs the 1041 permit to identify and mitigate any potential adverse impacts from the proposed project.

Terry Scanga, general manager of the Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District, expressed concern about potential impact of the Nestlé proposed augmentation plan.

The plan relies on water leased from Aurora and could trigger the loss of 1,000 acre-feet of Arkansas River water during a drought.

Scanga revealed that the conservancy district and City of Salida offered Nestlé an augmentation plan that would have cost $500,000 a year, while Aurora is asking about $180,000 a year for augmentation water.

Colorado School of Mines professor John Emerick spoke on behalf of Chaffee County Citizens for Sustainability. Emerick raised issues about a lack of information regarding hydrology, plant and bird species, and ability of the ecosystem to respond to water table fluctuations.

So let’s tote up the talking points fromt this story alone:

  • Residents are overwhelmingly against Nestle’s water extraction plan (which returns almost nothing to the county in economic terms).
  • Nestle’s application suggests economic benefits which are largely illusory (or outright fabrications in the event of the gas tax claim)
  • Nestle’s test pumping took place in one of the wettest years on record 2007, which belies the area’s drying trend
  • Nestle repeatedly said it would do what was best for Salida, then sent the “agumentation” money out of the area because it was cheaper
  • Non-Nestle funded consultants have shot Nestle’s supposedly bulletproof studies full of holes

And yes, it gets worse for Nestle:

Lauerman indicated Nestlé has begun installing small monitoring wells to better understand groundwater characteristics at the site.

Jane Browning, a former fisheries biologist living in Howard, noted major gaps in Nestlé information and echoed Emerick’s concerns.

“Without baseline studies,” Browning said, “it’s almost impossible to prove damage.”

Note Nestle’s sudden interesting in “better understanding” the site’s groundwater characteristics.

This my friends, is vintage Nestle: they make claims about protecting the watershed and tout their extensive studies, but only get down the real monitoring efforts when their project appears to be in jeopardy (witness the fire drill monitoring problem that started in McCloud – years after the after original contract was signed).

Look for more to come on Nestle’s near-death water extraction experience in Chaffee County.

It’s a hot-button subject, and yet another example of the difficulties Nestle’s suffering across North America.

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Nestle’s Problems in Chaffee County Multiplying: A One Year Decision-Making Moratorium Looming?

This from the Ark Valley Voice newspaper in Chaffee County:

An unnamed, high-ranking Chaffee County official, who spoke specifically on condition of anonymity, said that an immediate one-year moratorium should be placed by the County Commissioners on the decision to accept or deny the Nestle Waters North America (NWNA) application for 1041 and Special Land Use Permits. The official believes that such a moratorium would be prudent because of the complexity of the issue.

The 1041 and Special Land Use Permits would allow NWNA to pump water from a natural spring site located near Nathrop, Colorado and send it some five miles to a loading station in Johnson Village. Once at the loading station, the water would be trucked over Trout Creek Pass, twenty-five times per day, to Denver for packaging in an Arrowhead Bottled Water facilitiy. The wells that will pump the water out of the spring are known as the Ruby Mountain and Bighorn sites.

However, it appears that the application has not met several mandatory criteria, according to four documents: the “Planning Commission Recommendations Nestle Waters 1041 Application Comments Nestle Waters 1041 Permit”, the “Application Review Memorandum” dated February 27, 2009 and accompanying “Addendum” from April 16, 2009, the independent consultant report on the wetlands by Geomega of April 14, 2009, as well as an additional independent consultant’s report from Jean Townsend with Coley/Forest, April 16, 2009. All the documents can be found at the Chaffeecounty.org website.

It’s an interesting idea – and probably not good news for Nestle that a county official thinks a moratorium is needed – but why the moratorium in the first place?

If Nestle hasn’t meet the permitting conditions, isn’t a simple denial in order?

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More on Nestle’s Chaffee County Project: The Numbers Just Don’t Add Up

Nestle Water’s Chaffee County water extraction project – which once saw smooth sailing ahead – now may be heading for the rocks (via the Salida Citizen online site):

During public hearing earlier this week, findings by the county’s
economic impact consultant, Jean Townsend of Coley/Forrest differed
dramatically from those presented by Nestle consultant THK Associates
as the county tries to determine what economic impacts the Nestle
project would have.

Nestle hopes to receive county approval for a special use permit and
1041 regulations to pipe spring water from the mouth of Brown’s Canyon
in Nathrop to Johnson Village. There, the water would be loaded onto
trucks for transport to a Denver bottling plant to become Nestle’s
Arrowhead brand of bottled water.

Demonstrating economic benefit is a condition of the 1041
regulations. Townsend found fault with Nestle’s portrayal of those
benefits on several significant fronts including the following:

– Though benefits were calculated on a 30-year term, Nestle has not
confirmed the duration of its water extraction plan that could be more
or less than 30 years.

– Local government property tax revenues are 61 percent less than Nestle estimates

– There will be no sales tax revenue to the county from the sale of
diesel fuel to Nestle trucks as well as electric utility use as THK
purported. This is an error THK admitted to in subsequent testimony.

– Local government expenditures would be higher than Nestle
estimated in part, because the county would have to hire ongoing
technical expertise to monitor Nestle pumping operations and any
subsequent mitigation

– The Nestle application did not address, quantify or provide for
the mitigation of the economic benefits lost due to the permanent
removal of spring water other than mentions of educational projects and
restoration work to the fish hatchery site on the property.

Townsend suggested the county work with Nestle to establish a
mitigation fund specifically earmarked for the project and funded by
Nestle that would help prevent against the county incurring negative
financial impacts.

THK’s Peter Elzi questioned Townsend’s math with respect to property
tax calculations and pipeline valuation. Townsend, bristling, defended
her math on property tax calculations and explained that she used state
mandated guidelines for assessing the value of the privately owned
water pipeline.

The Salida Citizen’s well-written story also cited overwhelming citizen resistance against the project, with most objecting to the loss of a natural resource with no real benefit to the area:

Avid fly-fisherman David Moore, spoke of the “myth of economic benefit”
saying Nestle is acting like it’s doing the county a huge favor by
“taking our natural resources.”

Businesswoman Colleen Kunkel told
commissioners that in her review of the Nestle 1041 application, she
found “no evidence that Nestle is a sustainable business of value to
this (Chaffee) county”

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Nestle Caught Unprepared at Hearing: Chaffee County 1041 Permit Process “Not Satisfied”

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.

Why is Nestle Waters Pursuing Chaffee County Project First?

Nestle Waters of North America’s hotly contested water extraction project in Chaffee County (CO) bears all the indications of being the first of many, and in fact, Nestle’s operative admits Nestle will soon be looking for additional spring sites around the state.

This perceptive letter in the SalidaCitizen.com site asks the simple question: Why us?

Why did Nestle come to Chaffee County first? I think it was not just for the water. I think Nestle wanted a small rural community with very limited resources to address their first 1041 permit application in the state.

Nestle’s stated intentions are to satisfy their market in the Rocky Mountain region. Bruce Lauerman, at the Board of Commissioners meeting in Buena Vista last Tuesday April 21, spoke of looking for additional spring sites throughout the state, with the help of the State’s Engineer’s Office. By setting a precedent with this first application approval, it will make it more difficult to deny the next permit in the next county.

I feel this is just the beginning of NWNA’s extended efforts to develop industrial water extraction projects statewide. This project has been presented as small and benign. NWNA is a subsidiary of the Nestle Corporation, a foreign company.

Swiss owned, it has been engaged in monopolization of water resources globally. I am concerned about the long term implications of Nestle engaging in “Buy and Dry” land purchases and/or other spring site developments, when it is yet to be established if the State of Colorado has capacity to support industrial extraction of water for profit.

This is the first project of its kind in Colorado, and a responsible approach would be to place a moratorium on projects of this kind until the issue can be studied, and determined if this type of enterprise is appropriate for our state. In this case, the concept is being hurried, without asking or answering important questions.

Nestle’s Chaffee County Extraction Project Faces Stiff Citizen Oppostion: Decision Delayed to Accommodate Comments

Via the Salida Citizen online news site, we discovered the reception “enjoyed” by Nestle at the Chaffee County Commissioners meeting wasn’t as friendly as they could have hoped.

After seven hours of discussion on technical data from a mounting pile of consultant reports and impassioned pubic testimony on Nestle Waters North America proposed water harvesting project, Chaffee County Board of County Commissioners Chairman Frank Holman halted the proceedings. With more than 20 people still interested in commenting on the application, the commissioners agreed to continue public testimony on Wednesday, April 29, starting at 1 p.m. at the Salida SteamPlant Theater and Event Center.

The bulk of yesterday’s hearing before an overflow, standing room only crowd at the cramped American Legion Hall in Buena Vista focused on the two newest consultant reports reviewing the hydrology and economic impacts of Nestle’s plans to harvest water in Nathrop. Nestle’s plans call for piping spring water from the mouth of Brown’s Canyon to Johnson Village where it will be loaded onto trucks bound for Denver for bottling and distribution under Nestle’s Arrowhead brand.

A bad sound system and horrible acoustics of the hall added an extra challenge as the audience that reached nearly 200 at its peak, strained to hear testimony from a parade of Nestle and county consultants as well as comments from citizens, the vast majority of whom voiced opposition to Nestle’s plans.

This is just an excerpt; the whole story is definitely worth a read, and interestingly – and despite repeated statements from Nestle suggesting there will be no negative environmental impacts from their projects – several new consultant reports and citizens groups disagree.

Will the citizens of Chaffee County – despite a late start – still pull this one out? Stay tuned.

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Independent Economic Analysis Says Nestle “Exaggerated” Economic Benefits to Chaffee County Extraction Project

This recently appeared in Chaffee County’s Salida Citizen, and addresses Nestle’s (now dubious) claims of economic benefits to Chaffee County:

A new economic analysis of the Nestlé 1041 application from Jean Townsend of Denver-based Coley/Forrest is highly critical of proposed benefits to the County from the Nestlé Waters project, and goes so far as to suggest that project revenues may not even cover County expenses.

The report cites several instances where Nestle’s claims of economic benefit to the county simply don’t apply:

Property tax revenues from estimated increases in NWNA property valuation are exaggerated, both because TABOR limits the ability of local governments to benefit from increased revenue and because a majority of school district revenues are controlled by the State.

Whether or not Nestlé trucks purchase diesel fuel in Johnson Village is immaterial, because State law does not allow local governments to collect sales tax revenue on fuel used by vehicles which travel on public highways.

Sales tax revenue from electricity usage by the project will not be available to Chaffee County because State law provides an exemption for manufacturing firms.

In addition, local government expenses may be understated, the memo suggests, because construction impacts have not been considered and because estimates of on-going impacts are arbitrary.

Nestle’s ability to externalize costs is legendary; has this Chaffee County-commissioned economic report caught them with their hand in the cookie jar?

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