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Keep the tap closed on Nestle

Keep the tap closed on Nestle

Published: Sunday, February 12, 2012, 3:39 PM

Guest Columnist:  Julia DeGraw

For nearly three years, environmental and consumer advocates have been fighting to protect the Columbia River Gorge from exploitation by the multinational water bottler Nestlé. Since Nestlé can’t get its hands on the gorge’s spring water directly, a complicated water exchange between the state Department of Fish and Wildlife and the city of Cascade Locks must happen first. Applications that must be processed before that exchange takes place could be approved as soon as March.

On Jan. 27, Dave Palais, Nestlé’s natural resources manager, gave public testimony asking the Water Resources Commission to support the water bottling plant and to approve the water exchange pertaining to the project. Palais claims a plant bottling 100 million gallons of Columbia Gorge water per year will be good for Oregon’s economy, but a Food & Water Watch economic study conducted by Ecotrust finds otherwise. Even one of the state’s leading labor unions, Oregon AFSCME, sees through Nestlé’s empty promise of job creation and opposes the project. They realize that it’s not worth giving up control of public water — our most essential shared resource — for a handful of jobs.

Nestlé promises that the bottling plant will create 48 local jobs. Compared to the estimated 1,030 jobs that tourism brings to Hood River County, it’s hard to justify the long-term, environmental damage a bottled-water plant would cause. Tourism, on the other hand, is a thriving industry that can continue to grow and remain environmentally benign if done responsibly.

…snip…

The state Water Resources Department should take into account the effects of the proposed water bottling facility and not approve the water exchange. But ultimate responsibility lies with Gov. John Kitzhaber, to whom the commission and the DFW report. If Kitzhaber allows this exchange to be approved, he’s going to have to explain to more than 10,000 Oregonians who have asked him to stop Nestlé in Oregon. They will demand to know why he didn’t stand up for Oregonians and protect our most prized essential resource: water.

Read more:  http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2012/02/governor_kitzhaber_keep_the_ta.html

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