Local Activists Join Virtual National Rally Against Nestle Water Mining Enterprises

On Thursday, March 18, the local group Unbottle and Protect Chaffee County Waters will join with other groups opposing Nestle bottled water projects in Chaffee County and in five other states. 

Titled “Virtual Rally to Reclaim Nestlé’s Troubled Waters” the virtual event will be held at 5 p.m. on YouTube and Facebook.

Sponsored by the Story of Stuff Project, the program will have Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib, a water rights advocate, as the featured speaker and will include musical performances.

Interested people can get a reminder email at https://storyofstuff.typeform.com/to/EZWEzMHS.

The rally seeks to underscore opposition to allowing Nestle to bottle water from various sources, selling it to the public in plastic bottles, including Arrowhead and other brands piped from the Ruby Mountain spring near Nathrop. 

Last year, Nestle reported pumping and selling nearly 72 acre-feet of water from the site or more than 23 million gallons of the spring water. One acre-foot of water is equivalent to about 326,000 gallons of water.

Nestle has been seeking a ten-year extension of its 1041 permit for its local pumping operations, which has met with some widespread public opposition, as did the original proposal for the operation did in 2009.

County Commissioners will hold a public hearing on Tuesday, March 16 as a continuation of the review of the 1041 permit renewal request including a review of economic benefit to the community from the Nestle operations. 

There is no current estimate when a final decision by the county on the merit renewal request will be made.

The 1041 permit, approved by the county in 2009, allows Nestle to pump up to 65 million gallons from the spring annually, though it pumps about half that amount now, and replacing the spring water that does not then flow into the Arkansas River with non-spring water from the Twin Lakes Reservoir near Leadville, though an agreement with the Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District. 

Recently, Nestle Waters North America recently confirmed it was selling of most of its bottle water brands to One Rock Capital Partners, LLC (One Rock) and Metropoulos and Co., private equity investment firms, for $4.3 billion. 

Local activists, including Jenifer Swancina, spokesperson for Unbottle and Protect Chaffee County Waters, said Nestle was not forthcoming about the sale, which they contend exacerbates concerns about commodifying water resources for a private company’s profit and issues surrounding increasing drought conditions in Colorado as well as global problems surrounding plastic pollution.

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