Nestlé is the largest food company in the world and the largest water bottling company in the US. As of yet, they have no water bottling plants in the Pacific Northwest – but that could change soon. Since 2009, Nestlé has sought to secure water from the publicly owned Oxbow Springs in the Columbia River Gorge in order to bottle it along with tap water from the City of Cascade Locks.
Please contact Governor Kitzhaber and urge him to weigh in with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) to withdraw its Oxbow Springs water exchange permit, and call his citizen comment line at 503-378-4582.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) holds the water rights for Oxbow Springs in the Columbia River Gorge, which it currently uses for a fish hatchery. To enable Nestlé to bottle and sell the spring water, ODFW has proposed creating a water exchange with the City of Cascade Locks: ODFW would get access to Cascade Locks’ municipal water (to use for its hatchery) and Cascade Locks would get access to the spring water which it would in turn sell to Nestlé (at the municipal water rate).
This water exchange is key for Nestlé being able to bottle water from Oxbow Springs.
ODFW’s water exchange permit proposal has to be approved by the Oregon Water Resources Department (OWRD) which has indicated it will make a decision on the permit as early as mid December. Several organizations and a number of concerned Oregonians have already contacted OWRD asking it to deny the permit.
These organizations (which include the Sierra Club) are now urging Governor Kitzhaber to weigh in by asking ODFW to withdraw its Oxbow Springs water exchange permit. If ODFW does so it would put an end to Nestlé’s ability to bottle Oxbow Spring’s water and Nestlé would most likely abandon its attempt to build the bottling plant in Cascades Locks.
Bottled water from any source, especially for single use bottles, has many negative environmental and human health consequences. A typical single-use bottle uses three times the amount of water it holds and ¼ the petroleum to produce. Though some of the bottles can be recycled, many of them end up in our landfills, lakes, streams and oceans, where they never fully decompose. Typically, the water in the bottles is no safer than what comes out of our taps, and is often the same exact thing. Also, as climate change continues, fresh clean water is growing more scarce. It is important to preserve existing clean fresh water sources that may need to be used in the future as current municipal sources face climate related impacts.
Nestlé has reported that the proposed water bottling plant in the Gorge would require 200 truck trips every day, driving through the small town of Cascade Locks and the Columbia River Gorge. These trips will increase both air and noise pollution in Columbia Gorge, as well as the endangering the tourism that Cascade Locks and nearby areas rely on.
Lend your voice to the effort to convince ODFW to withdraw its Oxbow Springs water exchange permit by emailing Governor Kitzhaber today, and calling his citizen comment line at 503-378-4582.