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.”
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