May 28, 2008
SMALL TOWN BUSINESS
Company wants to bottle city resource, operate a plant here.
By Kevin Hanson
ENUMCLAW, Washington (STPNS) — The huge Nestlé Corporation would like to tap into Enumclaw’s pristine water supply, pull millions of gallons of the cool liquid from a natural spring each week and bottle the natural beverage in a facility on the city’s east side.
The proposal will be topic of discussion Monday during an Enumclaw City Council workshop. The meeting gets under way at 7 p.m. at City Hall council chambers.
Nestlé is an international giant responsible for a wide array of products found in many, if not most, American homes. The company manufactures everything from the Butterfinger and Baby Ruth candy bars that satisfy cravings for sweets to the Alpo and Tender Vittles that keep Americans’ four-legged friends happy. Sandwiched between are assembly lines for Nesquik, the line of Lean Cuisine meals and countless other offerings.
Then there is the Nestlé line of bottled waters. The company bottles water under a variety of labels, the most well known being Arrowhead and Calistoga. Nestlé also owns the Perrier line.
It was Nestlé’s desire for spring water that led company representatives to Enumclaw’s doorstep.
Company officials first contacted the city late last year, mentioning the possibility of drawing water from the Boise Spring site. Initial talks led to a visit by company representatives.
City Administrator Mark Bauer is not sure how Nestlé first learned of Enumclaw, but assumes the company must have reviewed state Department of Ecology records, looking for communities that have spring water as part of their municipal supply. Enumclaw uses deep wells, but also siphons water where Boise Spring bubbles to the surface.
The initial question is whether Enumclaw would want to allow so much of its water for commercial purposes. Bauer said the company is talking about bottling approximately 500,000 gallons of water daily. City users now total between 3 million and 3.5 million gallons per day, Bauer said.
‘We’re just dealing with the resource side of things right now,’ Bauer said.
A second discussion would center on the company’s desire to build a bottling plant in Enumclaw. Nestlé officials have focused on two possible sites, Bauer said, one along the south side of state Route 410 and one on the southern edge of Battersby Avenue.
Bauer said there would be some benefits to Nestlé coming to town, primarily in the form of ongoing property tax collections and additional employment opportunities. Early estimates are the Nestlé plant would require about 40 employees, along with administrative staff.
The big issue, however, is the city’s willingness to direct so much local water to a commercial enterprise. With the wastewater treatment plant expansion project well under way and more housing predicted for the city’s future, “we have to look at our water capacity issues, now and in the future,” Bauer said.
The company is apparently anxious to add Enumclaw to its list of manufacturing facilities. ‘They would like to be up and running tomorrow if they could,” Bauer said. “They appear to be committed to the project.”
The process does not move that quickly, though. Monday’s discussion is just the first step in a process that would require City Council approval of both a water agreement and building permit.