Nestle Proposal Overview
Nestle Waters North America is proposing to pump water out of an aquifer in the semi-arid Arkansas Valley near Nathrop, CO (approximately midway between Salida and Buena Vista). This water will then be piped 5 miles to a loading station. The water will then be trucked 120 miles to Denver for bottling under the Arrowhead brand. The quantity of water involved is 200 acre feet per year, which translates into approximately 65,000,000 gallons per year. In order to handle this quantity of water, Nestle will be running 25 trucks roundtrip to Denver each day. Nestle calls this a sustainable operation.
Nestle Waters North America (Nestle) is a branch of the multi-national company Nestlé, based in Switzerland. Nestle is one of the world’s leading bottlers of water. Numerous brands belong to Nestle; in our region the two common brands are PureLife (bottled municipal tap water) and Arrowhead (bottled spring water). Nestle has recently built a bottling facility in Denver where they are bottling Denver municipal water. They also hope to bottle spring water at the Denver plant. To obtain the spring water, their plan is to pump water from an aquifer in Chaffee County (called the Ruby Mountain site), build a 5 mile pipe line in order to transport the water to a loading station, and then use tanker trucks to make a 240 mile round trip to Denver. Twenty five round trips will be made each day in order to extract the planned 65,000,000 gallons annually. If you would like to see a graphic that shows how many bottles would be used monthly, please click here This is a project that Nestle promotes as “sustainable”.
In order to realize this project, Nestle has to satisfy various rules and regulations that apply to such a project in Chaffee County. The land, which they currently do not own but have a conditional contract on, does not currently comply with the necessary land use designation for such a project (think of zoning). Therefore, they must apply for a Special Land Use Permit (SLUP). In addition, the County has in place a body of regulatons called “1041 Regulations”
GUIDELINES AND REGULATIONS FOR
AREAS AND ACTIVITIES OF STATE INTEREST
COUNTY OF CHAFFEE
STATE OF COLORADO
ADOPTED: December 10, 1991;
REVISED: June 17, 2003.
Chapters 1,2,3, and 9 are the ones that the County referred to in Nestlé’s application. To view the 1041 regulations click here
A second major element needed to realize the project concerns the water that they want to withdraw. In order for Nestle or anyone to use water, ( note that we did not say "take" ) they must have a “right” to do so. Think of the word “water right”. Nestle does not currently own such water rights as would required to remove the quantity of water in question (65 million gallons/year). The anticipated purchase of the Ruby Mountain site does not involve such necessary water rights. The proposed solution to obtaining a necessary “right” is that Nestle will lease that right from Aurora. This process will allow them to "augment" their withdrawals. They have an agreement pending with Aurora for a 10 year lease of the “water right”. Currently for every gallon of water Nestle plans to extract and truck to Denver, Aurora will release a gallon of water into the Arkansas River in the area of Twin Lakes (20 or so miles upstream). Where does the water Aurora is supplying come from? Nestle is committing that it will be trans-basin, meaning that it will come from outside of the Arkansas Valley Watershed or basin. Nestle promotes to the County citizens “every drop of water we take will be replaced”. This seems to make a number of people feel better … but it will be the poor neighbors in the watershed(s) to the west that will have to bear the loss of the water from their region. The truth is the majority of the water Nestle “harvests” will be headed out of the State of Colorado! If you read this document it will be clear that such an action as a corporation exporting public water from the State for profit is most questionable. Myopic views concerning water are not acceptable at this point in time.
The last public hearing during which either the applicant or the public could make any comments was held May 21, 2009. Subsequent to that meeting the County Commissioners (the deciding body) have held 3 hearings in which they “deliberated” on the application. It was during this process that the Commissioners decided to direct County Staff to draw up a body of “conditions” that Commissioners felt would allow the permit to be acceptable with regards to the 1041 regulations.
On September 23, 2009 the Commissioners signed the Permit Resolutions for the Nestle
Waters 1041 Permit Application and the Special Land Use Permit. To view the Final 1041
Permit Resolution click here. For the Final SLUP click here and for the Cost Reimbursement
Fund click here.