Recently in my statewide
travels around Colorado, I have heard a lot about the lack of rainfall
and the drought which is plaguing our state. My bud WeatherDem also has been doing an excellent job of covering the measurable effects of Climate Change and the recent mass tree die off.
He also has told us about the water grab by Shell energy.
If that was not enough, there is a Pine Beetle epidemic in our mountains, leaving numerous acres and homes vulnerable to a massive wildfire.
You can imagine my shock today when I read that Nestle co. wants to bottle up 65 million gallons from the Arkansas river.
From Jason Blevins of the Denver Post:
Nestle -- with 12 U.S. brands of bottled water and almost $4.3 billion in North American sales in 2007 -- came calling for Arkansas Valley spring water about two years ago. The company wants to draw 65 million gallons a year from an aquifer feeding two freshwater springs near Nathrop, pipe it 5 miles to a truck stop and ship it 100 miles to a Denver bottling facility. It would be sold under the company's Arrowhead brand.Nestle has promised to replace all the water it takes from the valley and spend $1 million to restore riverside habitat where a dilapidated fishery sits. It has installed 10 monitoring wells to gauge the health of the underground aquifer that supplies the springs and will monitor wetlands near them.
Nestle hydrogeologist Bruce Lauerman calls the plan a "sustainable, surgical extraction" of water and describes preserving the pristine water supply by taking only a fraction of its flows.
"We are one of the best things that could happen to these springs," he said. "Our involvement affords a level of protection that other owners and users of this property could never offer."
Maybe so, say many locals. But no thanks.
"We have to take everything they are promising on faith," said Michele Riggio, who last week helped found the anti-Nestle group Chaffee County Citizens for Sustainability. "The risks are too great, and there are not enough proven benefits, so why try?"
The point here Nestle guys, is that you have already got 12 brands
of bottled water, which alone probably creates its own huge carbon
footprint in plastics, gasoline use and clogged transportation, and you
are making 4.3 BILLION dollars from those brands.
Water is the one resource you can't pay money for. Once an aquifer is drained, it doesn't come back.
While this may seem like one county's problem, imagine a drought and a forest fire spreading across the Rockies with even less water than we already have now.
But it gets better. Nestle had to pay for study on the impact of the water draining as part of the exploration. That research differed from theirs...
Several residents trumpeted a consultant's review of Nestle's research by Colorado State University ecologist Delia Malone -- a review commissioned by the county and funded by Nestle as part of the county's permitting process.
The report repeatedly criticizes the water bottler for not considering warming climate trends when studying wildlife, wetlands and the long-term ecological health of the aquifer, which catches drainage from the Mosquito Range. Malone's review contradicts the company's research by suggesting that water withdrawal during a drought could drain the aquifer and nearby wells could run dry.
Nestle has an all too familiar sounding response:
Nestle says the report "is not based on scientific evidence"
Why is it that when interfering with making tons of money, scientific evidence becomes something other than scientific evidence?
we already know about the lengths Nestle will go to in selling their powdered infant formula, so this dismissal of scientific evidence should be no surprise.
I had a phone interview with Michelle Riggio of Chaffee County Citizens for Sustainability and she summed up the situation with Nestle and also Shell as more proof that the big companies are making their grab for next big thing in the commodities market - water.
"They want to privatize our water"
Let's all do ourselves a favor and contact Nestle and let them know how you feel about this idea.
The water belongs to the people and to the forests that can't exist without it.
I want to encourage you to thank Jason Blevins for covering this story at the Denver Post firstname.lastname@example.org
and to encourage the local residents who are with the Chaffee County Citizens for Sustainability group by visiting their blogspot or emailing them