From the Denver Post (Jason Blevins): “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.'”
“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?” To help change that attitude, Nestle is working with county residents to start a community foundation. There is also the lure of jobs and tax money. Construction of the $4 million underground pipeline from the springs to proposed water silos at a truck stop on U.S. 285 would require about 50 workers. County officials also envision millions of dollars from property taxes and from the taxes truckers pay as they gas up…
Last April, residents of Enumclaw, Wash., rallied to repel Nestle’s plan to annually bottle 100 million gallons of local spring water. Residents of McCloud, Calif., are in a five-year legal battle to stop Nestle’s plans for a water-bottling plant. Residents in Maine, Michigan and New Hampshire also are challenging Nestle’s plans to bottle their spring water.
“It’s hard to anticipate all the scenarios, and Nestle has the ability to fight something for 20 years,” said Jane Browning, who lives in Howard, southeast of Salida. “We don’t have that ability.”[...]
How it would work:
•Nestle Waters North America, a subsidiary of the Switzerland-based conglomerate, will replace water it draws from the Chaffee County aquifer below the springs with water it plans to lease from the city of Aurora.
•Aurora owns senior water rights near the headwaters of the Arkansas River and is negotiating a 10-year deal with Nestle.
•Nestle’s studies of the springs and aquifers show it would need to put about 0.3 cubic feet per second back into the river.
•If the county approves the plan, Nestle will build production wells on land it owns near two springs and draw a year-round average of 125 gallons per minute.
•Nestle’s research shows that its withdrawal amounts to 10 percent of the springs’ capacity. The company says its tests show the aquifer recharging in a few hours after heavy test pumping.
Update: From SalidaCitizen.com: “The Greater Arkansas River Nature Association (GARNA), a local non-profit membership-based organization, has been following the proposed Nestle project. We previously submitted a letter of concern to Don Reimer, Chaffee County Engineer and Development Services Director for the Planning Commission Meeting held on March 4, 2009 for the purpose of reviewing the Nestle Special Land Use Permit and 1041 Application. Since that time, extensive additional information has been publicly circulated from the County’s consultants hired to review the Nestle applications. In light of these reports and serious discrepancies in the findings, the GARNA Board of Directors has voted to rescind the letter dated March 3, 2009. We now have grave concerns and are here this evening to state our opposition to the project.”