For Immediate Release
Julia DeGraw, Oregon Organizer: jdegraw (at) fwwatch.org; (503) 241-6556
Darcey Rakestraw, Communications Director: drakestraw (at) fwwatch.org; (202) 683-2467
Over 4,300 Comments Delivered Against Controversial Water Exchange That Would Bring Nestlé Water Bottling Plant into the Gorge
PORTLAND, Ore. - Today a group of concerned citizens and allied organizations delivered over 4,300 comments to the Oregon Water Resources Department (OWRD) from citizens who oppose a water exchange that would allow Nestlé to bottle water from the Columbia River Gorge.
“It’s not surprising that citizens across Oregon pulled together to let OWRD know this water exchange is a bad idea,” said Julia DeGraw, Northwest Organizer for national consumer organization Food & Water Watch. “Oregon’s water belongs to all of us and is too precious to sell off to a multinational bottling company with a track record of leaving some of the communities it enters in worse economic and environmental shape than it found them.”
Nestlé wants OWRD to approve an agreement that would exchange part of Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’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 166 million gallons of water out of Cascade Locks every year. This project could potentially affect the quantity and quality of water for the town of Cascade Locks and could negatively impact endangered fish species in the Columbia River.
Copies of some of the 4,300 comments were also delivered to both gubernatorial candidates, Chris Dudley and John Kitzhaber, since OWRD’s decision whether or not to approve the exchange will take place when the new governor is in office.
“Whoever is chosen to be Oregon’s next governor should be well aware of how his constituents across the state feel about Nestlé moving into the Columbia River Gorge,” said DeGraw. “Allowing this water exchange is a bad idea for jobs, wild fish, and the regions’ water future.”
The deadline for public comments is 5 PM this Friday the 29th due to: OWRD; Attn: Transfer Section, 725 Summer St. NE, Suite A; Salem, OR 97301. After the 29th OWRD has an undisclosed timeframe in which to review the comments and make a decision on the water exchange. Those who submitted comments will be notified of the Department’s preliminary decision on approving or denying the exchange and will have 30 days to protest that decision.
Organizations allied in opposing this water exchange include Food & Water Watch, Alliance for Democracy, Bark, Environment Oregon, Oregon Council Trout Unlimited, Sierra Club, Fresh Water Trust, and the Native Fish Society. More details about the Cascade Locks water exchange can be found at http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/NoNestleinOR or on the Keep Nestlé Out of the Gorge Facebook page.
Food & Water Watch is a nonprofit consumer organization that works to ensure clean water and safe food. We challenge the corporate control and abuse of our food and water resources by empowering people to take action and by transforming the public consciousness about what we eat and drink.