Nestle Waters Update

Hello Water Protectors,

If you missed the last Nestle meeting, here is the one-hour video from Jan. 19th:

In a nutshell, Nestle was given the opportunity to give a presentation about their sustainable packaging efforts, but they failed to impress any of our commissioners.

Keith Baker lectured Nestle about the classic “R”s “reduce, reuse, and recycle” adding “refuse and rot” to them. He could have also added another “R” for “responsibility” - it should be the responsibility of the producer to be accountable for the waste they create.

Although also seemingly unimpressed by Nestle’s excuses about why they can’t use biodegradable bottles, Greg Felt said the issue of plastics is outside of the commissioners’ 1041 authority for considering whether or not to renew Nestle’s permit. Rusty Granzella disagreed with Greg Felt. Granzella spoke up at the end of the meeting to say that plastic pollution SHOULD be considered because a 1041 permit weighs impacts vs. benefits, and plastics are definitely an impact.

Commissioners asked Nestle about the fact that their North American Water division is for sale (this includes the Arrowhead brand bottled water that Chaffee County water is bottled for) but the company offered little information, simply saying they are in the middle of a “strategic review.”

Greg Felt also brought up the branding of Chaffee County, and his disappointment in Nestle for not offering more opportunity to partner with the county to create biodegradable packaging for a more positive image.

We, citizens of Chaffee County, need to make the point that Chaffee County has a goal of being a “model county for sustainability,” per the newly adopted county comprehensive plan. So clearly, doing business with Nestle, who has been found to be the third largest plastic polluter in the world, is not consistent with our plan.

(Per the 1041 permit regulation 3-303(1)(b), Nestle’s industrial water project must be “consistent with relative provisions of adopted land use or comprehensive plans of the county, municipalities within the county, state, federal and regional land use regulations, comprehensive plans and water quality plans).”

Let’s ask questions and encourage the county to engage in more discussion about environmental impacts while we are waiting for the economic analysis to be completed (the economic report is estimated to be completed mid-March). Letters to the editor of local publications would be great to keep this in the news while we wait! Then once the economic analysis is published, and Nestle has time to rebut it, another public hearing will take place (estimated to be mid-May). This meeting will again allow public comment as part of the official record and we will need another big turnout of community opposition.

The next meeting between the commissioners and Nestle is scheduled for Feb. The agenda of what specifically will be discussed at the Feb. 16th meeting is unknown at this time, but please Zoom in and participate live via the chat box because the county staff sees our comments. Unfortunately, the exact time is not published. The commissioners meet as the 1041 permit authority after their regular 9am meeting, so it will likely be before or after their lunch (11am or 1pm). The Zoom link is found on the right-side column of the Chaffee County webpage.

Nestle’s permit, which actually expired in Sept. 2019, has been extended through August 11th, 2021, with the idea that if they are voted out of here in mid-May, the company will have 90 days to pack up and get out of Chaffee County! Let’s do this!

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