Alliance for Democracy

Comment Period: Oppose Cascade Locks Nestlé Water

Posted in Ban the Bottle, Cascade Locks, Nestle by Alliance for Democracy Portland OR on September 2, 2010

The comment period is now open on the Nestle proposal to privatize water in Cascade Locks.  Taking water from a public source, putting in a bottle and selling it at a handsome markup/profit is an act of privatization, an act of thief from the commons. Nestle has proposed building a bottled water plant in Cascade Locks, enticing the economically desperate town with promises to double their tax revenues and increase employment with 45 new jobs.

Beyond the environmental costs of bottled water and the fact that bottled water is not a necessity (we can support bottled water for emergency use when public supplies are compromised, for instance like now during the flooding in Pakistan), this plant brings the issue of fish and the exchange of creek water and water from Cascade Locks. The creek water which Nestle wants to use is currently used by a State of Oregon fish hatchery.  Cascade Locks has no creek water itself instead getting its water from the area water table. Nestle’s plan is for Cascade Locks to exchange their water with the creek water at the fish hatchery, which they would then bottle for distribution into Oregon and Washington making a large profit in the process.  Because of this exchange, they must have the Oregon Water Resources Department’s OK.  To get that approval they must prove that the hatchery fish will not be harmed by the Cascade Locks water.  Testing is going on now with a March 2011 expected completion date.

In the meantime, the Oregon Water Resources Department is accepting comment on this proposal until Sept. 30 and those comments must be in writing. The comment address is in bold below.

Below is the press release from Food and Water Watch which is leading a coalition of groups including the Alliance for Democracy which is opposing this proposal.

The Oregonian also run an article today.  It is available at

David e. Delk, Alliance for Democracy – Portland Chapter, 503.232.5495

Press Release
Food & Water Watch
September 1, 2010

Comment Period Begins for Controversial Water Exchange That Would Bring Nestlé Water Bottling Plant into the Gorge

Portland, Ore. – Today marks the start of a 30-day public comment period on a controversial water exchange that would allow Nestlé to bottle and sell water currently being used by endangered fish from the Columbia River Gorge. 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 Nestlé 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 Nestlé’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 Nestlé Out of the Gorge. “We should not sell our finite water supply to a corporation with a long history as a bad actor.”

Nestlé 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. Nestlé 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, Nestlé has paid an average of $.00225 per gallon where it has brokered similar deals in other areas. A gallon of Nestlé’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 Nestlé 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 Nestlé water exchange should be sent to the 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 Nestlé 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 or on the Keep Nestlé Out of the Gorge Facebook page.


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