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Comment Period Begins for Controversial Nestlé Water Bottling Plant In the Gorge

Today marks the start of a 30-day public comment period on a controversial water exchange that would allow Nestl? to bottle and sell water currently being used by endangered fish from the Columbia River Gorge.
View of Columbia River from Proposed Nestle Site near Cascade Locks
View of Columbia River from Proposed Nestle Site near Cascade Locks
Pristine Oxbow Spring  Above the Fish Hatchery
Pristine Oxbow Spring Above the Fish Hatchery
Bark HIke to Oxbow Fish Hatchery
Bark HIke to Oxbow Fish Hatchery
Oregon Water Resources Department (OWRD) is considering an application from Cascade Locks and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) for a water exchange that would allow the town to sell ODFW's spring water to Nestl? to bottle.

"Citizens from the Gorge and across Oregon are deeply concerned about the social and environmental impacts of selling our water to a multinational corporation," said Lori Ann Burd, Restore Mt. Hood Campaign Manager and Staff Attorney for Bark. "This water comes onto state land from Mt. Hood National Forest, so it really belongs to all of us, and Nestl?'s plan is not an appropriate use of this precious resource."

Earlier this summer, a United States Geological Service (USGS) report that found ground water levels are falling across the entire Columbia Plateau, a region that includes Cascade Locks. According to the USGS, groundwater levels in the Eastern Columbia Plateau have steeply declined over the past 25 years in 80 percent of the nearly 500 wells measured. Although the sampling did not include Cascade Locks' groundwater, this study suggests a shrinking supply of water, a resource once thought to be inexhaustible in the region.

"In an area that has always been water-rich, this USGS report is a wake-up call that the abundant supply of water Oregonians have taken for granted is diminishing," said Julia DeGraw, the Northwest organizer with Food & Water Watch and Keep Nestl? Out of the Gorge. "We should not sell our finite water supply to a corporation with a long history as a bad actor." Nestl? has asked ODFW to approve an agreement that would exchange part of ODFW's water at Oxbow Springs with an equivalent amount of well water from the city of Cascade Locks. Nestl? would then buy both the city's well and spring water to bottle under its Pure Life and Arrowhead labels, pumping an average of 167 million gallons of water out of Cascade Locks every year. While the financial details of the deal have not yet been disclosed, Nestl? has paid an average of $.00225 per gallon where it has brokered similar deals in other areas. A gallon of Nestl?'s spring water sold in single-serve plastic jugs sells for $5.30.

The lack of facts on the ground is a serious concern for Keep Nestl? out of the Gorge, a coalition of 15 environmental and social justice organizations. "How can we know what a sustainable withdrawal of water is when we don't have a map or adequate baseline data on the city of Cascade Locks' groundwater?" said DeGraw. "Approving it would be an irresponsible move that could cause serious damage to Cascade Locks' municipal drinking water source. OWRD should deny this application."

Clean, cold water from the spring is crucial for endangered fish living both inside the fish hatchery and in nearby Herman Creek, but scientists have not yet determined whether or not they would be adversely impacted by this proposal. In addition, the water bottling facility would introduce up to 200 truck trips a day to rural roads, increasing traffic and smog in the Gorge and potentially affecting tourism in Cascade Locks.

Public comments on the Nestl? water exchange should be sent to:
Water Resources Department; Attn: Transfer Section,
725 Summer St. NE, Suite A,
Salem, OR 97301-1266, Transfer Number 11109.

Public comments will close on Sept. 30, after which point it will decide whether or not to approve the exchange.

The Keep Nestl? Out of the Gorge coalition members include Food & Water Watch, Alliance for Democracy, Bark, Environment Oregon, Trout Unlimited, Columbia Group Sierra Club and Columbia Riverkeeper.

More details about the Cascade Locks water exchange can be found at http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/NoNestleinOR or on the Keep Nestl? Out of the Gorge Facebook page.

homepage: homepage: http://www.bark-out.org/article.php?id=600


i'm curious 03.Sep.2010 00:50

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would it be better if a small company started an enterprise of a similar nature, only in better cooperation with the ecological needs of the region? i think oregon is looking for business revenue and economic benefit by employing people, but what if it was on a smaller and more acceptable and sustainable level by another, local, company. ??? or in another location that has good spring water. we could use a good local source or two, albeit, in glass, not plastic , since plastic leaches toxicity into the bottled water, etc when warmed.

What are you talking about?? No privatization of water! 04.Sep.2010 00:16

coaster

Lordy, people on indymedia talking about the "need" for bottled water....We're fucked, for sure.

Think about why you think that bottled water is necessary. Have the adverts got to you? Are you aware that bottled water is a total scam? That it costs thousands of times what tap water costs you? That tap water is less contaminated? Who in their right mind would ever advocate destroying pristine watersheds with bottling plants? How has this transpired over the past twenty years?

Protect water as a right! Don't let the corporations privatize water. Find out where your water comes from, get involved in protecting public water systems, and for crying out loud, recognize that your brain has been colonized by the corporations who want to steal the water, and sell it back to us for lots of money.

No! 04.Sep.2010 10:04

gk

Check out Nestle's practices to employees elsewhere. I don't think it is good. Also, why would you want Nestle in the Gorge, and not a casino? It is a designated scenic area. Water is for all. Don't sell it to corporations.

Bark Hike to Proposed Nestle Bottling Plant Site 04.Sep.2010 19:47

Jim Lockhart

This 24 minute video is from the January 2010 Bark Field Trip to the proposed Nestle bottling site. Hike is led by Loriann Burd of the forest advocacy group Bark, and Julia DeGraw, of Food and Water Watch.

Here's a link to a web site discussing much that is wrong with Nestle, worldwide.

Nestl? in the McSpotlight



Get a life it's going into the river 10.Nov.2010 10:47

Pat

Care you people crazy? The water is just flowing into the river and mixing with the Columbia river. what the difference if it's well water or not. We have a resource based economy. WE NEED THESE JOBS. People are begging for them and the tax base it provides. I bet the people who oppose these things have never worked a day in their life. I bet they drive cars everywhere they go. Sounds like a bunch of liberal public employees to me living off their retirement that we paid for. Lets get started on this asap.

Water; The Most Under-Apreciated and Common Resource Of the U.S. 03.Feb.2011 19:41

Mr. Lopez=14

I believe that if we, the community of Portland, Or. decide to deny Nestle from invading The Gorge-- then soon enough Nestle will begin to realize the fact that they need not to exist. If we continue to let ourselves (humanity in general) be pushed around by multi-million dollar companies, those same companies we let control us will be the ones that end all human civilization. What we the people are ignorant of is the fact that water is the root of all life. "No one can go seven days without water, and not shed tears of blood." A quote I took from the very source which opened my eyes to my ignorance of how important and neccesary water is to humanity. The quote came from the film, "Blue Gold" that gold which is much more precious than anything aside from life itself. I know I may be just one person concerned for all life, but I know that if somehow I can open the eyes of more people then sooner or later people will want to overthrow companies with private water supplies. If I can convince even one person to fight for the world of tomorrow then my life would be not, in vain. So, to whomever it may concern, I am sincerely hoping you will help me be the change this world so desperately neeeds.