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In a sign that perhaps Nestlé Water might not find its Chaffee County 1041 permit renewal quite as easy as it had hoped, the Chaffee Board of County Commissioners has again changed the date of the public hearing, returning it to the April 21 date that they had initially expected would be honored.

Two earlier Ark Valley Voice stories document the initiation discussion which ensued when the county failed to properly publish a 30-day notice of its October meeting, as required by the Colorado 1041 permitting process. This caused commissioners to extend the Colorado 1041 permit six months through April, 2020, to allow time to do proper public notification.

During a December BoCC session, commissioners were not altogether pleased to learn that Nestlé had asked for the required public hearing to be moved forward to January 2020. They appeared “surprised” that county staff appeared to have acquiesced to the company’s request for an earlier date.

Public comments made in response to an earlier Ark Valley Voice article about the topic indicate that there are some who are not pleased with what they consider to be a rubber stamp approval of the state permit that allows Nestlé to continue to draw water from Chaffee County. During the October BoCC session, county staff had indicated that Nestlé had met all the terms of the expiring ten-year contract.

“They have met all the requirements and they been a good neighbor,” said Chaffee Planning Manager Jon Roorda.

It would appear that commissioners are aware that renewal of the permit issued in 2009 for Nestlé Water to take water from Chaffee County for its branded, bottled water product might be more contentious than it was ten years ago. In 2009, the country was in the grips of the Great Recession, identified as the most serious economic downturn since the 1930s, and Chaffee County had experienced that economic impact. In addition, current public sensibilities to water shortages, heightening wildfire danger and the need to protect our natural environments was not as high then as they are a decade later.