Tag Archives: water extraction

Nestle Considering Extraction, Bottling Operation in North Carolina

Chesterfield County, N.C. looks to be on Nestle Waters of North America’s short list for a new water extraction/bottling facility.

From the St. Louis Business Journal:

Nestlé Waters North America Inc. is considering sites in Chesterfield County, N.C., for a spring-water source and bottling facility.

Will they be met by fawning local elected officials, or unhappy residents – concerned about traffic, loss of a local resource, privatization of water, truck traffic, declining property values, etc?

I don’t know, and it’s possible Nestle doesn’t either, though their playbook involves getting someone on the ground long before this kind of announcment is made.

via Nestlé eyes plant sites – St. Louis Business Journal:.

Citizen Outrage Builds Over Chaffee County Decision to Issue Nestle Waters Permit

Now that Chaffee County’s commissioners have approved Nestle Waters of North America’s water extraction deal – even in the face of numerous questions about the project’s economic benefits to the area – citizen outrage seems to be building.

For example, the reader comments beneath the Salida Citizen’s story are overwhelmingly negative; people want to know why their elected commissioners ignored so many questions and seemingly bent over backwards to permit the Nestle project – even as they said Nestle’s application didn’t make the grade.

And yes, there have been numerous suggestions of a recall.

Simply put, citizens apparently know what the commissioners were unwilling to admit; Nestle’s water extraction project isn’t going to benefit the area, and Nestle’s abysmal record in other rural areas

A few excerpts:

The Commissioners, along with Mr. Jackson, appeared to have missed the point when voting in support of Nestle. Whether they were well-meaning (as a way to preserve the land through a conservation easement) or afraid of lawsuits as many people have speculated; if our political leaders don’t embrace responsibility for sustainability (there’s that word) in all of their decisions, than we are lost. The future must embrace new and green opportunities, the world demands it. A corporation with a history of corruption, exploitation and ugly propaganda hardly seems like the neighbors we hoped to attract to Chaffee county.

And…

I was terribly disappointed in this decision, even though it was expected. Nestle’s has a history of being a bad neighbor, not a good neighbor as they claim. Every person I have spoken to in the community during these past months has agreed we should not allow this to happen. I, also, do not and will not buy any product put out by Nestle’s, and, of course, I do not buy ANY brand of bottled water! Water should not be a marketable, profit-making commodity!!! I hope all the locals who felt this was wrong, but did nothing about it, will now write letters to let the Commissioners know how they feel.

And…

What a travesty! The majority of voters and residents of Chaffee County have been disregarded by our elected officials to favor a big corporation with big profits to be made over a precious natural resource-water. It is totally ridiculous that this decision was made by four people instead of it going before voters to decide. This decision was not about private property rights; it’s about owning a resource in this valley that fuels our economy and sustains the living quality for humans and wildlife. Nestle, I can assure you, is laughing at the stupidity and the so called “economic benefits” they will be providing to our community. Multi billion dollar corporations can tie up legal battles in court for years without missing a beat; how far will the litagation fund go to enforce violations? Our commissioners have done us all a great disservice; I’m ashamed of their shortsightedness and “selling out” of this valley’s limited and precious water.

The comments go one for quite a ways; almost all decry the issuance of a Nestle permit, including one which correctly predicted Nestle’s coming “good neighbor” morality play:

Nestle Waters will eventually come to town with full pockets, ready to distribute money “benevolently,” all the while believing this gesture will bring them good will in Chaffee County.

We’ve all gotten along without Nestle’s blood money thus far. Will it be easy to turn down gifts from the controversial corporation in a downturned economy? I think not. But when Nestle begins passing out hundred dollar bills, for Chaffee County non-profits to “just say ‘no thanks,’” would make a significant statement.

And for God’s sake, don’t drink the bottled water they will undoubtedly leave on many of those doorsteps.

You can read all the comments here.

Clearly, Nestle isn’t loved in the community, and that also plays out in the Letters to the Editor in the local newspapers, where Michelle Riggio lands a few body blows:

At the last commissioners’ meeting to deliberate the Nestlé 1041 application, county 1041 attorney Barbara Green made an important clarification. Commissioners cannot approve the application unless it satisfies all criteria.

If the permit does not meet all the criteria, then it shall be denied unless conditions enable compliance. She stressed it was at the discretion of the board if members want to “deny” or “approve with conditions.”

Among conditions being considered is a mitigation fund to cover potential legal costs. The original suggestion from county personnel was $50,000 be kept in a fund and replenished in a timely manner as needed.

Commissioner Giese asked that it be $200,000. Why not make it $2 million just to be sure?

Furthermore, if we already anticipate a litigious relationship with Nestlé, why not flat out deny it because they obviously haven’t met all the standards?

And later in her letter:

Finally, I found it disturbing that Nestlé project manager Bruce Lauermann suggested rather than have the commissioners deliberate about the newly crafted conditions, the county staff and the Nestlé team could all sit down together and hash out the conditions instead.

Did he forget the hearing was closed to public comment – including Nestlé comments – weeks ago?

Listening to all the conditions created to ensure that Nestlé doesn’t harm the environment and/or bankrupt the county, it reinforced in me the belief that with this corporate giant, no amount of conditions could adequately protect us.

The questions from citizens just keep rolling in, and – with several more water extraction projects on the line in Colorado – expect Nestle to throw a few dollars at the community to quiet opposition.

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.

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?

Nestle Chaffee County Water Extraction Project Hanging in Balance

The Chaffee County Commissioners recently debated the fate of Nestle Waters of North America’s proposed water extraction project there, yet didn’t arrive at a decision.

Several stories in the regional press covered the hearing (It’s difficult for Nestle to sneak into town any more), and several passages were telling.

First, this project offers almost no benefit to the citizens of Chaffee County (one of the considerations in the 1041 permitting process), and at least one commissioner was willing to point that out.

This from the Salida Citizen’s Lee Hart:

John Graham, chair of Nestle opposition group, Chaffee County Citizens for Sustainability, said that what confused him about the deliberations is the commissioners emphasis on “when, when, when and condition, condition, condition.” Graham said he doesn’t think it’s the county’s role is to “suggest ways for Nestle’s proposal not to fail.” He said the commissioners’ decision should be based solely on whether or not Nestle’s proposal does or does not meet the 1041 requirements.

County Special Legal Counsel Barbara Green, explained 1041 regulations allow the commissioners to “approve, deny or approve with conditions” Nestle’s proposal. She said some of the proposed conditions; such as limits to truck traffic and providing a permanent conservation easement on the project property were in a direct response to public testimony.

Green, who said conditional approvals are commonplace in land use reviews in cities and counties throughout the state, explained that in the end, when the commissioners look at all the conditions, they must be satisfied the project will create no significant adverse impact on the county.

EJ Sherry and Alan Rule, who also oppose the Nestle project, both said they think the county is making a big mistake if they approve the project since they believe the economic benefit and fiscal impacts to monitor the project’s compliance with all the conditions as well as litigate any subsequent disputes with Nestle will adversely affect taxpayers.

The Pueblo Chieftan had this to say:

“One of the biggest issues for me is the impact on any aspect of the local economy,” said Commissioner Tim Glenn. “It would add some value, but the benefits don’t outweigh the potential losses like the forever inability to develop the resource to have a major economic benefit in Chaffee County.” Said Commissioner Dennis Giese, “All of us, everyone involved, would like to see more economic benefit to the community. The cost to us to regulate this – and it not producing the money in taxes – the county would need to offset that.”

Giese said local construction jobs would be minimal during construction of a 5-mile pipeline from the spring site to a Johnson’s Village trucking station. Regular local employees would also be minimal.

Possible conditions under study are require use of local contractors for construction and repairs, 50 percent local drivers and use of local materials.

Commissioners also discussed concerns about pumping rates and the possible decline of wetlands in the area. Giese suggested limiting pumping to 150 gallons per minute.

The commissioners also said they would like to set conditions on how to mitigate damage to wetlands should it occur and whether the conditions could include a cease-pumping order.

“I want to make sure we are not at a major impasse with Nestle Waters. They could say it is not my pumping but something else like someone changing irrigation practices that is drying out the wetlands and then were are in a lawsuit and that will be a cost to the taxpayers,” Glenn said.

Nestle’s actions in other rural towns are finally catching up with them; faced with what’s happened elsewhere, communities are waking up to the need to protect themselves from Nestle’s scorched earth legal tendencies, which naturally begs the question: Why deal with them at all?

Stipulations

It seems that Chaffee County’s Commissioners aren’t looking to deny the permit, but looking to add stipulations to the deal to make it work.

Many seem to include guarantees of local employment – the very stipulations Nestle has said were illegal when asked about them in other areas.

Should they accept them in Colorado, I’d suspect their representatives will have questions to answer elsewhere.

Letter to the Editor About Nestle/Poland Spring Water Extraction in Wells

Letters to the Editor | SeacoastOnline.com

Nestlé, leave our water alone

To the Editor:

I write to express my concerns over legislation to allow large-scale water extraction from the Town of Wells. I and those in my neighborhood rely on our private wells for water. In the past two years I have witnessed three wells within shouting distance of my home fail, requiring well replacement, no doubt at considerable cost to the property owners.

In addition, I have learned that in the not-to-distant past, the town had requested citizens to refrain from sprinkler use due to water shortage in a dry spell. Does this sound as if we of Wells should be willing to sell our water? I think not.

It is well known that Nestlé/Poland Spring desires to contract for the right to withdraw up to 400,000 gallons of water per day for 30 years with the option to extend the contract for an additional 20 years. Does selling water seem like sound policy for our town’s future? I think not.

Recently we have had a major hotel and The Summer Village built downtown as well as an ever-increasing number of private homes being built. Should our water be reserved for our citizens present and future or for the profit of an international corporation?

My concern is the viability of my personal water source as well as that of those many, many residents who rely on well-source water. I believe that the majority of citizens of Wells are against the sale of their water and call upon those who share my concerns to let their view be known to the Wells Board of Selectmen.

Richard Fowler
Wells

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Nestle’s Project in Chaffee County Heading for Final Decision, But Water Bottler Forced to React to Citizens

It’s been a surprisingly long road for Nestle Waters of North America’s Chaffee County water extraction project; an easy approval seemed to be in cards for the multinational before citizen opposition appeared seemingly out of nowhere (as did a local blog dedicated to the issue).

At the urging of residents, the county hired their own independent consultants to look at the project, and – unsurprisingly – discovered many instances where Nestle’s stated economic benefits to the community were wrong or grossly overstated (we’re shocked, shocked!).

Now, with the last marathon public meeting fading away into history, it’s up to the County Commissioners to decide the fate of the project – even though many of the questions about the project remain unanswered:

Chaffee County Commissioners Head to Deliberations in Nestlé Applications | Ark Valley Voice

On Thursday, May 21, The Chaffee County Commissioners endured the fourth and last round of marathon hearings on the Nestlé Waters North America applications for a 1041 and Special Land Use Permits. The eleven-hour meeting was peppered with the now commonplace disputes between Nestlé Water’s Regional Manager, Bruce Lauerman, and the County’s Staff, Consultants, and residents.

Nestlé did make a move to soothe widespread outcry over the project by voluntarily agreeing to remove the Bighorn site and its proposed operations from the permit (as Special Water Council, Jim Culichia, previously recommended) as well as a written guarantee of their willingness to place a conservation easement on parts of the project.

Many residents have expressed distrust over Nestlé’s unwillingness to guarantee project incentives on paper, in addition to what many perceive as a lack of transparency on behalf of the Swiss-based company.

Lauerman’s team of well-dressed and well-spoken attorneys, consultants, and public relations representatives, were by turn, respectful, direct, aggressive, and dismissive at Thursday’s meeting. One Nestlé attorney, Steve Simms, spoke with a tempered belligerence regarding a recommendation by the Upper Arkansas Water Conservation District Manager (UAWCD) Terry Scanga.

This might have been the first Nestle project where Nestle’s conduct in other small towns became an issue right at the start, and remained in the forefront throughout the process. In fact, it was enough of an issue that the normally unflappable Nestle – which usually ignores that which it finds inconvenient to acknowledge – was forced to confront the issue head on.

Unfortunately for Nestle, citizen journalism seems to have taken root in the area, with the Salida Citizen and the Ark Valley Voice (online, citizen-run news sites) providing running commentary and reportage that simply wasn’t available in the local newspaper.

Nestle was even forced to quickdraw their checkbook when it became apparent there were few lasting economic benefits to the county, making noises about ponying up an additional $500,000 “endownment” which would benefit local nonprofits.

It’s not unusual for Nestle to throw a few thousand dollars around a small community in an attempt to silence criticism; it’s quite another for them to be forced to do so by a citizenry that suddenly realizes Nestle isn’t doing anyone in the county any favors.

Still, the endowment would leave town when Nestle did, and the “benefits’ to the area’s nonprofits are put into perspective in an article from the Ark Valley Voice, which includes the following point/counterpoint:

Nestlé: Chaffee County would be the beneficiary of an endowment in the amount of $500,000. This fund would promote educational opportunities, and give $25,000-$30,000 to local organizations and events.

Opposition: This is just a gimmick. While $500,000 may sound like a lot, the benefits accrued don’t really add up. Minus costs, the annual payout would be closer to 12,000-$15,000. Locally based charities have raised significantly more in a single year and will continue to do so. Additionally, the fund will leave with Nestlé.

It’s true that the simplest explanation is usually the best; in Chaffee County, the simple explanation was that Nestle was forced to react to citizen opposition to their plans in ways they never had before.

Whether that’s a function of the Internet’s ability to network people in rural areas or simply the new reality facing Nestle Waters’ water bottling efforts isn’t clear.

What is clear is that the company’s less savory acts elsewhere – its lawsuits against Fryeburg, the citizens of Michigan, or opposition in McCloud (CA) – are suddenly becoming fodder even in the small rural towns where the company formerly faced little opposition.

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Nestle PR Spin of the Day: Protecting Water Resources a Priority in McCloud

Nestle’s taken to running a carefully controlled series of public meetings in the town of McCloud, CA – managed by a “facilitation” company and attended by a few Nestle execs.

It’s a step forward in terms of talking to the community, though we can’t escape the knowledge that their newfound concern for the residents of McCloud came only after their first (and largely rapacious) contract with the town went belly up.

Today’s PR effort? Here’s an excerpt from the Mount Shasta Herald:

“Protecting the water resources in McCloud is a priority for our company and the community and these studies will provide valuable and reliable information to use in evaluating our project and managing water resources for the long-term,” added Palais.

Does Nestle assume we’re so memory challenged that we’ll forget these studies were forced on them through the adroit work of the McCloud Watershed Council, CalTrout & Trout Unlimited?

You don’t have to be a detective to realize that Nestle originally pursued their contract with the town without conducting a single flow monitoring study. Not one.

As we’re seeing in Chaffee County (CO), Nestle’s “concern” for a community’s resources seemingly only appears after they’ve suffered a setback.

In McCloud, they’re finally being forced to do the studies they should have done initially.

In Chaffee County, they’re whipping out their checkbook and suddenly promising the community a $500,000 endowment (though initially with some ominous strings attached).

Initially, they only promised to support the community with free cases of bottled water (giving them their own water??), but after their highly inflated claims of economic benefit to the community were exposed – and began to threaten their water extraction project – they suddenly grew more “concerned” for the area’s economic well being.

This leaves us with two inescapable conclusions:

  1. It’s difficult to trust Nestle Waters of North America, who are seemingly a lot better at PR spin than they are real concern for rural towns and water resources
  2. The first offer from the company is probably a sucker deal

It also leads us to wonder if the McCloud Services District – if they deal with Nestle at all – should negotiate a similar endowment for the town?

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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.

Oops.

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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Maine Drought in 2001/2002 Caused Massive Water Shortages For Residents, Belies Nestle Claims of Perennial Abundance

While Nestle Waters/Poland Spring claims that Maine’s groundwater is so abundant, there simply won’t be issues with extraction – or that groundwater pumping couldn’t harm anyone’s well or aquifer – they seem to have forgotten what happened in 2002, when Maine residents struggled with severe water shortages, record-low groundwater levels, and dried-up private wells:

Area water resources improved since 2002 drought | SeacoastOnline.com

The year 2002 found Maine at the forefront of national news as its residents struggled for the fourth year in a row to adapt to a shortage in the water supply. A report by the U.S. Geological Survey said the drought “was the most severe drought on Maine rivers in more than 50 years.”

According to a New York Times article from March 15, 2002, whole neighborhoods on Sebago Lake were forced to flush their toilets only once a day, to forgo the use of their washing machines and use bottled water to brush their teeth.

Things were bad the state over.

According to a report by the Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Environmental and Watershed Research at the University of Maine, “Maine experienced the worst drought in over 30 years during 2001 and 2002.”

Groundwater, lakes and streams went to record lows, and thousands of private wells went dry. Public water utilities were forced to tell customers to cut back on consumption and, looking ahead, seek out alternate water sources.

Yet Maine today is a water-rich state, said John Peckenham, the director of the Maine Water Resources Research Institute at the University of Maine.

“But we are vulnerable to changes in weather, like the drought of 1999-2001,” he said. “A lot of water suppliers were affected then, including the (Kennebunk, Kennebunkport, and Wells Water District).”

As for Nestle’s claims of monitoring to “protect” the resource, you only have to look to the Mecosta County (MI) for proof to the contrary, where residents had to take Nestle Waters to court to halt excessive pumping, which was damaging a wetlands and a lake.

In fact, when some residents complained that Nestle’s pumping was lowering the lakes so much their docks no longer reached the water, Nestle’s concern for the resource consisted of little more than offering to extend the docks.

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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
Howard

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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