Nestle Waters Update
In summary, Nestle reps were questioned about the company being sold, and they denied knowing anything about it. But later that evening, the news dropped that Nestle has agreed to sell their bulk water bottling businesses to a billionaire investor (Dean Metropoulos) and a private equity firm (One Rock Capitol).
This is not good news! It’s like jumping from the frying pan into the fire. Our group, Unbottle and Protect Chaffee County Water, is not alone in this. We stand in solidarity with other grassroots groups in Ontario Canada, Maine, Florida, California and Michigan. Here is a must-read link to our joint statement about this sale situation:
Basically, as bad as Nestle is, allowing this water mining operation to continue via shadowy companies with even less accountability and transparency is worse!
Commissioner Felt is on record saying he would not vote in favor of a permit transfer during this permit extension period. Watch the video from 2:33 to 2:43. (The permit expired in Sept 2020 but is currently extended until mid-August 2021 while we wait for an economic analysis).
There is a lot of uncertainty now. Will the sale agreement actually go through? Will Nestle still be a partial owner? (The permit language allows a permit transfer to a 51% or more Nestle-owned company). If the commissioners deny this now, will new owners reapply or sell the property? Are the new owners even aware of the commitments Nestle has made to our community, which they have failed to complete, such as a conservation land easement and investment in a truck driver training program through CMC?
There is a very real fear of lawsuits, but Nestle has failed to meet legal permit requirements (such as providing jobs, and submitting their wetlands/grazing land use plans for review). Although little oversight was provided, the permit allows the commissioners to simply deny the permit renewal at their discretion.
The pending economic analysis may provide even more ammunition for a denial, proving the benefits to the county do not outweigh the losses (this is permit criteria). Our new county comprehensive plan can also be leveraged because “consistency with county plans” is part of the 1041 permit criteria. In the new comp plan, there is quite a bit of language about sustainability, including the goal of being a “model county for sustainability.”
Considering the current extreme drought conditions and the climate crisis, we need to insist on enacting a moratorium on water mining operations in our county!
It’s time to get active in this issue! Please help spread the word! We need to stand up for what is right and prove that Chaffee County has heart, and won’t sell out!
* Heads up! On March 9th Nestle presents their 2020 annual report to commissioners. March 16th is the continuation of the 1041 permit hearing. Zoom in: www.chaffeecounty.org