Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Dear Editor,

In approving the Nestlé Waters North America 1041 permit, in 2009, the commissioners, at the time, did not construct a contract that would provide adequate and guaranteed benefit to Chaffee County.

For example, it created an endowment for the schools, but the funds sit in a Denver foundation. The money paid to the schools (about $13,000 a year each, on average) is a pittance, compared to the resource taken AND compared to the enormous profit Nestlé makes on the water they suck and truck. Nestlé agreed to make additional contributions, but the commissioners did not add a requirement stipulating to where, or for how much. The contract did not require funds be added to the endowment, nor was there a requirement for a specific amount to go to various nonprofits.

In reading the draft minutes from a Special Meeting on September 23, 2009, it seems the county was relying on Nestlé to “be a good neighbor”, and not protecting the long term interest of the county.

In resolution 2009-42, the 6th WHEREAS, states: “The permittee (Nestlé) amended the application on May 21 2009 to indicate it is voluntarily placing a permanent conservation easement on the project parcels concurrent with construction of the project.”

Notes from the May 21st 2009 public hearing may indicate other intent by Nestlé, but are not part of the resolution voted on by the Commission. Since then, the most valuable riverfront property was traded off for development, and there is still no conservation easement on the remaining parcels. Clearly, Nestlé has been allowed to skirt their commitment.

Nestlé is required, by law, to provide augmentation water from another watershed. In 2009 local author Susan J. Tweit wrote that, “as every trout knows, not all water is equal”.

The replacement water is deemed drinkable, but is not the same as the water Nestlé takes from the aquifer.  In addition, why would we take water away from another county, to replace something we already have. In doing this, the county does not benefit, in any substantial way, but Nestlé Waters North America continues to make an enormous profit by trucking the water to Denver for bottling in single-use plastic.

According to the 1041 permit language, “the commissioners may, at their discretion, approve or deny an extension”.  The commissioners, acting as the permit authority, are now in a position to set this right.  It’s time to deny Nestlé Waters North America a 10-year extension.

This contract is poorly constructed and is inadequate in protecting the long term interests of citizens of Chaffee County. The benefits simply do not outweigh the losses – ref: Chaffee County 1041 Permit Regulations, section 3-303 (k)(vi).

Quoting Ecologist Delia Malone, “Accessible water is rare and for Chaffee County to just give it away is really short-sighted. You can’t get it back, and when you really need it, it will be too late.”

Go to Tell the county commissioners to Say No to Nestlé!

Francie Bomer