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It should come as no surprise that the Nestleave: Unbottle and Protect Chaffee County Water opposition group to the renewal of the Nestlé Water North American 1041 permit in Chaffee County has condemned Wednesday’s announcement of the proposed sale of the company to private equity fund One Rock Capital Partners, LLC.

In a statement on Friday, the organized opposition to the 1041 permit renewal issued a statement, that read in part:

“The Unbottle and Protect Chaffee County Water joins groups across the U.S. and Canada in condemning the sale of Nestlé Waters to private equity firms, One Rock Capital and Metropoulous & Co. We are calling for the denial of Nestlé’s request for a ten-year permit extension and calling for a moratorium on future water mining permits. Salida, Colorado (February 18, 2021–Nestlé, the world’s largest corporate water bottler, sold its North American bulk bottled water business, including the Arrowhead brand) to private equity firms One Rock Capital and Metropoulous.”

This $4.3 billion dollar sale is an especially ominous development in light of Wall Street’s accelerating interest in water trading. The sale announcement raises many questions about what this means for communities currently entangled in legal hearings and permit negotiations with Nestlé Waters. Will Nestlé remain a part-owner of the company? In Chaffee County, specifically, will new owners follow through on permit commitments that Nestlé has previously made, yet failed to complete-such as a conservation land easement?

Nestleave: Unbottle and Protect Chaffee County Water has made a point of identifying its opposition with other grassroots organizations ringing the alarm about Nestlé and water privatization for years.

It is among the voices warning that private equity firms, freed of Nestlé’s reputational responsibilities, may be more prone to cut expenses at the cost of the limited promises its predecessor made regarding environmental sustainability and community benefit.

“We call on elected leaders, regulators, advocacy groups and the media in Canada and the U.S. to ‘follow the money’ and expose this deal to the highest levels of public scrutiny,” adds the objection from the Unbottle and Protect Chaffee County Water opposition group.

Featured image: Members of 350 Central Colorado and Nestleave: Unbottle and Protect Chaffee County Water demonstrated Oct. 6 at the Chaffee County building against renewing a permit to allow Nestlé to continue to pump local spring water for its Arrowhead bottled water brand. Dan Smith photo