Nestlé Waters in Chaffee County, Colorado

After a lengthy and at times contentious process, Chaffee County Commissioners have approved an application by Nestlé Waters for a Special Land Use Permit and 1041 Permit to develop a spring site in Chaffee County (Ruby Mountain Spring), install a pipeline for delivery of spring water to a loading facility in Johnson Village near Buena Vista, and then truck the spring water to a bottling facility in Denver.

Nestlé Waters plans to extract 200 acre feet, more than 65 million gallons, annually from the aquifer at a rate of 125 gallons per minute. Colorado water law requires Nestlé to augment the Arkansas River for the water that they would remove from the basin, and Nestlé has purchased a ten-year lease for this replacement water from the City of Aurora.

Related Articles

See the most recent list of all articles related to Nestle Waters at the Citizen.

Important Documents & Reports

Nestlé Application
The Nestlé application can be found at the Chaffee County website.
Nestlé 1041 Application Review Memorandum
This document [PDF, 3.1 MB] by Chaffee County Development Director Don Reimer is the place to start if you want to understand the Nestlé application, the 1041 process and staff recommendations as of February 27, 2009. This document references other documents which have been submitted or requested, summarizes consultant review reports, and includes relevant guiding objectives from County planning documents.
Nestlé Rebuttal to the Application Review Memorandum
In this March 2, 2009 letter, Holly Strablizky of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck on behalf of Nestlé takes issue with points raised in the Special Land Use Permit (SLUP) part of the Application Review prepared by County staff.
Letter from Nestlé Asserting 1041 Compliance
In this 30-page document dated March 10, 2009, Holly Strablizky of Browstein Hyatt Farber Schreck on behalf of Nestlé addresses points raised in the Application Review and asserts that the Nestlé application is in compliance with 1041 review criteria.
Planning Commission Recommends Approval of Special Land Use Permit
At their March 10, 2009 special meeting, the Planning Commission unanimously recommended approval of the Nestlé Waters North America, Inc. Special Land Use Permit Application, subject to ten conditions.

Consultant Reports for the Nestlé Application

Chaffee County requested various entities to review the Nestlé application; we have posted some of these documents below. See the Chaffee County website for a complete listing of consultant reports.

Nestlé Project Application Review: Potential Impacts of the Nestlé Project to Natural Resources in the Area
In this 16-page draft report dated January 29, 2009, Delia G. Malone, an ecologist with the Colorado Natural Heritage Program says that the Nestlé finding that the project would have “no detrimental impact” for terrestrial and aquatic animals and plants is not supported by the evidence.
Economic & Planning Systems (EPS) review of Nestlé Waters North America’s (NWNA) Chaffee County 1041 Application, including the Fiscal Impact Analysis (Appendix K) prepared by THK Associates
In this analysis dated January 30, 2009, EPS concludes that the overall fiscal impacts of the Nestlé Waters facility are relatively minor and notes that they did not discover any major fiscal impacts of concern to the County. They criticize the report by THK as overstating revenues and ignoring some costs altogether.
Draft Memo from Jim Culichia of Felt, Monson and Culichia
At the County’s request, Jim Culichia reviews documents including Delia Malone’s CNHP report, Nestlé’s “Phase I Hydro geologic Report for the Buena Vista Spring Site”, various Colorado Revised Statutes, and more. This draft memo is dated February 4, 2009.
THK responds to the EPS peer review
In this February 13, 2009 memo to Crabtree Group, THK states “while EPS has raised some legitimate questions and clarifications which are individually addressed below, none of their comments have a material effect on the fiscal impacts resulting from this project. We have attached revised tables that reflect our minor modifications.”
AECOM’s Responses to Comments by W.W. Wheeler’s Review of NWNA 1041 Application to Chaffee County
In this 10-page document dated February 19, 2009, Dennis Albaugh, Director of Hydrogeology & Water Supply for AECOM Environment, responds to the report by W.W. Wheeler.
Economic & Planning Systems (EPS) responds to THK’s response
In this short February 20, 2009 memo to Chaffee County the authors note that THK has addressed the concerns they initially raised and they have “no significant remaining disagreements on the analysis of individual impacts.”
Colorado Division of Wildlife Comments on the Nestlé 1041 Application
In this short letter dated February 24, 2009 Colorado Division of Wildlife Area Manager James Aragon gives a synopsis of potential impacts caused by the project. He notes that the project could improve habitat for some animals, including endangered amphibians. He recommends that Nestlé provide access to the Arkansas River for anglers, and mentions that Nestlé has asked the Division of Wildlife for help creating a grazing management plan.
Supplemental Memorandum from Jim Culichia of Felt, Monson and Culichia
In this document dated February 24, 2009 Jim Culichia reviews comments from the Upper Arkansas Water Conservation District, the draft water lease agreement between Nestlé and the City of Aurora, the Chaffee County Recreational In-Channel Diversion (RICD) court decree, and more.
Hydrology Summary for the Nestlé 1041 Application by W.W.Wheeler and Associates
In this 9-page synopsis dated February 27, 2009, WW Wheeler provides a summary of their review of the water rights, surface water, groundwater, and water quality aspects of the Nestlé Waters of North America (NWNA) 1041 application.
CNHP Response to AECOM Comments
In this March 2, 2009 submission to Chaffee County, Colorado Natural Heritage Program ecologist Delia Malone rebuts comments from AECOM. She says that Chaffee County regulations “require a description ‘of the impacts and net effect that the proposed Activity would have on the floodplains, wetlands, and riparian areas’ (9-302 (2)(b)). In my view, as described in the following reply to AECOM’s comments, these 1041 requirements have not been met.” Parts of this document, which contains the original text as well as comments by AECOM and Malone, is barely legible.
CNHP Final Report
In this April 6, 2009 submission to Chaffee County, Colorado Natural Heritage Program concludes Nestlé is in compliance with county 1041 regulations and offers additional recommendations on ways to mitigate environmental impacts beyond those required by the County.
Trout Creek Corridor Report
This April 17, 2009 memo summarizes the existing function of US 24 (also US 285) between Johnson’s Village at approximate milepost 213 and the top of Trout Creek Pass at milepost 225.5, and details the impacts from the proposed project traffic.
Trout Creek Corridor Report Appendix
Appendix for the April 17 memo, above.

Other Documents & Reports


  • Chaffee County Citizens for Sustainability – Primary opposition to the Nestlé Waters 1041 application.
  • Chaffee County – Nestlé project page, including a schedule and application details
  • Nestlé Waters – Corporate site for the Chaffee County project, including updates by Nestlé officials
  • Channel BV – Check out ongoing discussion in their forums
  • Stop Nestlé Waters – Opposition website and blog which includes information about Nestlé nationwide
  • Flow – Award-winning 2008 documentary that argues against the growing privatization of the world’s dwindling fresh water
  • Nestlé rebuttal to the documentary Flow
  • Tapped – Tapped examines the role of the bottled water industry and its effects on our health, climate change, pollution, and our reliance on oil. Link goes to the movie trailer.
  • Save Our Water – This grassroots Maine group works to prevent large scale water extraction, monitors our local water district, enacts legislative protections for our water, and educates local communities to the importance of local control of our water.

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