Statement: Community says “No to Nestlé,” Victory Shows Power of the Grassroots

By Kristin Urquiza, Think Outside the Bottle Campaign Director

BOSTON – July 28 – After a year-long campaign, Friends of the Wacissa, Corporate Accountability International’s partners and campaign allies, are celebrating Nestlé’s abandonment of their plans to pump hundreds of thousands of gallons of water a day from the Wacissa River. The food and beverage giant announced yesterday that it is giving up its attempts to bottle and sell water from Wacissa and leaving town for good.

Nestlé’s pull-out is a clear indication that, from Florida to California, communities are standing up to the world’s largest food and beverage corporation, saying, ‘our water may be dollars and cents to Nestlé, but it is our lifeblood.’ Corporate Accountability International and our members will continue to work closely with communities across North America that are challenging Nestlé’s abuses and call on the corporation to stop threatening local control of water when siting and operating its bottled water plants.

The grassroots campaign started in June of 2010 when residents woke up to find that Nestlé Waters North America set up four test wells to assess the Wacissa River as a potential site to
pump water and truck it to Nestlé bottling plant in Madison County, Florida.

When Nestlé’s plans became public, the community organized to protect the lifeblood of their community, a pristine river which is fed by at least 13 natural spring sites and is beloved by local residents and outdoor enthusiasts. As Friends of the Wacissa board member, Georgia Ackerman summarized, “The more we learned about the negative impact of bottled water and the challenges to the health of Florida’s springs, the stronger our conviction to protect Wacissa springs grew.”

A coalition of supporters gathered petitions, sent letters, attended community meetings, and even came together to put up 400 yard signs with “Say No to Nestlé” displayed throughout the town. According to Jeff Granger, Wacissa resident, “the community really came together to protect our river.”

Friends of the Wacissa also joined a dozen other communities who have been negatively impacted by Nestlé’s bottling to call out the corporation’s “community siting framework” as a sham in a full page ad. The group’s board members also delivered the ad along with thousands of messages from Corporate Accountability International members and activists to the Deer Park facility in Madison County on the day of the corporation’s annual shareholders’ meeting earlier this year.

Community opposition came to a head when The Jefferson County Board of County Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution that asks the Suwannee River Water Management Dis¬trict to deny any requests to pump water in the county and transport it elsewhere.

Over the last 15 years, Nestlé’s water grab in rural America has been ugly. Nestlé has struck backroom deals with public officials over community protests. Nestlé has engaged in lengthy legal battles with communities over water rights. And the corporation has run expensive “good neighbor” PR campaigns to win over communities, even as it failed to do basic environmental impact assessments.

This is a watershed moment in the effort to restore local control over water. In the summer of 2009, three other community groups – the McCloud Watershed Council, the Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation (MCWC) and Protect Our Water and Wildlife Resources (POWWR) in Shapleigh, ME – secured major victories over Nestlé. Michigan Citizen’s court victory against Nestlé came after nine years of legal battles and Nestlé appeals.

These victories are harbingers of more to come. Still, across the country, Nestlé continues to subvert the right of communities to control their own water. There is more work ahead, but thanks to the powerful grassroots coalition in Wacissa, it is clear there is power in the grassroots.

Heartfelt congratulations are due to Friends of the Wacissa, Wacissa residents like Jeff Granger and his neighbors, and to all who extended a hand to support these dedicated activists in their time of need.

Victory in FL! Friends of the Wacissa Protected Springs from Nestle!

Dear Friends and Protectors of the Wacissa River Springs,

Incredible news!  Nestle Waters just announced that they will not pursue commmercial water extraction at Allen Spring on Wacissa River.  Thank you, thank you for your steadfast efforts!

WFSU-FM 88.9 radio will likely have story in morning. Also check

You can also read

We will share more news as it comes in.  Please stay tuned.  Protecting Florida’s springs long term is critical.  We are just getting warmed up!  Make your voices continued to be heard.

Unity on the river,

Georgia Ackerman
Friends of the Wacissa


Recommended Rights of Nature Book List

Rights of Nature books

The Rights of Nature, The Case for a Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth.  This brilliant new book is co-produced by Global Exchange, the Council of Canadians, The Pachamama Alliance, and Fundación Pachamama.  Read excerpts of visionary essays from the book posted by

Wild Law: A Manifesto for Earth Justice by Cormac Cullinan has been re-released for the first time in the US. Originally released in 2002, Wild Law has provided inspiration and momentum forwarding Rights of Nature around the world. For a special 35% discount on Cormac Cullinan’s newest release of Wild Law, click Buy now!  or visit Chelsea Green Publishing at  Add Wild Law to your cart and proceed to checkout through Chelsea Green.  During checkout enter WLDLW as your Coupon Code and you will receive a 35% discount on your purchase.

More Nestle Hijinks: vote postponed on ordinance to protect water in Jefferson County FL

Update: Jefferson County Commission tables aquifer protection ordinance

by Jennifer Portman
Democrat senior writer

A vote on an aquifer protection ordinance intended to protect the Wacissa and other area spring-fed rivers from private bottled water operations was tabled Thursday night by the Jefferson County Commission.

A decision on the proposed ordinance, which would require any development associated with the production of bottled water be approved by a super-majority of the five-member board, was delayed to allow further comment by staff members from the Suwannee River Water Management District.

Nestle Waters North America applauded the delay. The company has prospective plans to tap the headwaters of the Wacissa as a satellite source of water for its bottling plant in Madison County and opposes the ordinance.   Continue reading

Florida Grassroots Group working to Stop Nestle from Pumping Water out of the Wacissa River

Jefferson County commissioners will take public comments and vote Thursday evening on a new Aquifer Protection Ordinance intended to help protect the Wacissa and other county spring-fed rivers from private bottled water operations.

The ordinance, which took months to draft, comes in the wake of prospective plans by Nestle Waters North America to pump water from the headwaters of the Wacissa River. If approved by the Board of County Commissioners, any development associated with the production of bottled water would require the approval of four commission members, a super-majority of the five-member board.

The grassroots group, Friends of the Wacissa, which opposes the water bottling plans, is urging citizens from throughout the area to contact commissioners in support of the ordinance and to turn out at the meeting, which will begin at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Courthouse Annex , 435 W. Walnut St., in Monticello.

Nestle spokesman Ryan Duffy said the company has not taken a position on the ordinance, stressed that science will dictate if the Wacissa is the right location to extract water to supplement its bottling operations in Madison County. The company is currently monitoring four test wells drilled near the river last summer.

No matter what commissioners decide on the ordinance, Duffy said, “If the science proves appropriate, we will move forward as permissible by the law.”

link to article:

Banning Corporate Personhood: How Communities Are Taking the Law Back from Big Companies

Ben Price of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund explains how communities can fight corporate power with a new legal weapon.
Defending Water comment:  Well, not entirely new.  Shapleigh and Newfield have used this weapon in ordinances they passed in 2009 to keep Nestle from taking their water. If frackers come to Maine wanting to extract natural gas from shale rock by fracturing rock using water laced with toxic chemicals, we need to be ready!  Ben, speaking at a community forum in NYS,  tells it like it is, so read on:

Letter to UN on 1st anniversary of UN Right to Water Mandate

Defending Water for Life Coordinator Ruth Caplan helped draft this letter to the United Nations. Currently, we and other organizations are gathering signatures.  As soon as the signing is complete, we will post the final Letter here on the website…

Letter body:

Esteemed President of the General Assembly, UN functionaries, and State Representatives,

We are writing to express our great appreciation for the gains the United Nations has made in furthering the human right to water, and to highlight some of the progress and challenges to advancing that right.

It has now been one year since the historic General Assembly Resolution 64/292 recognized the right to water and sanitation and acknowledged that clean drinking water and sanitation are essential to the realization of all human rights. That resolution called on States and international organizations to supply the financial and other assistance needed to enable all countries, especially developing countries, to provide safe, clean, accessible, and affordable drinking water and sanitation for all. Since then, there have been a number of important positive developments including the Human Rights Council’s reaffirmation of the right to water, and the appointment and extension of mandate for the Special Rapporteur (formerly Independent Expert) on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, Catarina de Albuquerque. Ms Albuquerque’s searching and methodical work on the human right to water represents a major avenue for deepening our understanding of what it takes to realize the human right to water.

Continue reading

Action Alert: Join a Global Letter Campaign for Rights Of Mother Earth

We are all part of Mother Earth, an indivisible, living community of interrelated forms. All forms of exploitation, abuse and contamination have caused great destruction to Mother Earth.

Today nature is treated as property under the law.  Nature has no standing and therefore, cannot be represented directly in a court of law.  Our goal is for nature to have rights just like humans and even corporations have.   We want humans and corporations to value nature as a living being in all its life forms with the right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles rather than being seen as property — a resource to be consumed.
Be the voice for Rights of Mother Earth at the Earth Summit 2012/Rio+20.

Write a letter addressed to your country’s President or Head of State.  Say why you would like your country to adopt Rights of Nature.

Our goal is to collect 1,000,000 letters written to world leaders by individuals like you.  The letters call forth the worldwide acceptance and implementation of the Universal Declaration of The Rights of Mother Earth.

Email your letters to letters@RightsOfMotherEarth.comOr mail to:

Rights Of Mother Earth                                 Rights Of Mother Earth
Po Box 88                                                     2036 Nevada City Hwy #193
6317 Oberwil b. Zug, Switzerland              Grass Valley, CA 95945 USA

We will distribute the letters.  One copy will go to Heads of States ahead of the Summit.  A youth delegation will deliver copies of all letters at the Earth Summit 2012/Rio +20 in Brazil.