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Nestlé says not now, Black Diamond (WA)

By Brenda Sexton, Enumclaw Courier Herald , Apr 27 2009

It looks like Nestlé Waters North America won’t be setting up shop in Black Diamond.

Nestlé has been in discussions with the city of Black Diamond for a number of months, exploring the possibility of establishing a spring water bottling plant and becoming a commercial customer of Black Diamond’s spring water, but in a letter sent to the city of Black Diamond Thursday, the company has decided not to continue its pursuit there.

“This has been part of the company’s strategy to develop a new facility in the Pacific Northwest to meet regional market needs,” wrote Nestle Project Manager Chris Kemp. “As we have looked at logistics and optimizing our production network, we’ve decided for business reasons not to continue to pursue developing a spring water bottling facility in Black Diamond at this time. It is possible that sometime in the future we could revisit that decision.”

Friday morning, Black Diamond Mayor Howard Botts said he did not know specifics as to why Nestlé no longer wished to pursue Black Diamond.

Nestlé is the largest producer of bottled water in the United States and boasts production plants throughout the U.S. and Canada. Water is bottled under a variety of labels; in the West, customers are familiar with the Arrowhead brand, while customers in other parts of the nation might be drinking Ozarka or Ice Mountain.

Currently, Nestlé trucks its bottled water to the Northwest, a situation the company is hoping to bring to an end. The goal of Nestlé Water North America is to build a plant in either Washington or Oregon. The company has no facilities in the upper tier of the U.S.

Nestlé is looking for a community that has natural spring water as part of its municipal supply. According to the presentation made in Black Diamond, the company would plan on drawing about 300 gallons per minute from a natural spring, capturing the water before it becomes part of the municipal supply. The water would be diverted to a bottling plant nearby, with Nestlé picking up the tab for all infrastructure costs.

Nestlé is envisioning a plant about 250,000 square feet in size that would require about 45 employees. In the plant, raw material would be turned into plastic bottles, which would immediately be filled and shipped.

The company at one time had hoped to have a plant operating by 2010.

Nestlé made a presentation at a Black Diamond Council meeting in August.

Nestlé made a similar proposal to the city of Enumclaw, but City Hall was inundated with public comments, nearly all of them opposed to the idea of Nestlé locating in town. Some were concerned about the impact on the city’s long-term water supply, others shuddered at the thought of additional trucks rumbling through town and still others were concerned Nestlé might make promises that wouldn’t be kept.

An ad hoc committee was formed to study the proposal, but most city leaders agreed to scrap the idea before it went very far.

Botts said some Black Diamond citizens also had concerns.

Enumclaw Courier Herald Reporter Brenda Sexton can be reached at bsexton@courierherald.com or 360-802-8206.

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