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Nestle in Retreat: Agrees to Scale Back McCloud Water Bottling Plant

By Tom Chandler 5/14/2008

Nestle -- stung by widespread criticism of its water bottling practices and a declining market (no, that's not what they say), announced it will reduce the size of its McCloud water bottling plant (originally slated to be the biggest water bottling facility in the world) by approximately two-thirds.

In addition, they've agreed to reduce the amount of water taken by more than half -- pumping 200 million gallons per year instead of the originally planned 521 million acres.

This, Undergrounders, mean's we're halfway there.

What remains is the renegotiation of multinational predator Nestle's rapacious contract with the McCloud Services District -- the five-member elected board who negotiated the existing contract in secret and approved it after a single public meeting.

While little is official at this point, the new project looks like this:

  • 350,000 sq. ft. plant (instead of a million sq. ft. monster)

  • 200,000,000 gallons of water annually (521,000,000 gallons)

  • Agreement to monitor flows in Squaw Creek for two years prior to building the plant

Presumably, the number of truck trips will be reduced from the mind-boggling, road-grinding 600 trips per day.

The Mount Shasta Herald suggested that changes to the specifications of the contract could mean renegotiation of all the terms of the contract, so it's possible McCloud will be able to do away with the "negotiated-by-monkeys" contract that pays 1/100th the value of the water, and offers no increase in rates for 100 years.

This is good news, Undergrounders. And while Nestle says rising fuel costs and the construction of a Denver plant drove this decision lt;coughbullshitcoughgt;, a careful look at last year's financials suggests their water market is no long growing, and that public backlash is badly damaging correctly identifying the company's image.

UPDATE: The Protect Our Waters Coalition (CalTrout, McCloud Watershed Council and Trout Unlimited) have weighed in:

"While it certainly is a smaller plant than it would have been, it nonetheless uses a large amount of water. It's still a major operation," said Severn Williams, a spokesman for the Protect Our Waters Coalition.

It plans to lobby for a higher price for the water and a clause that limits Nestle to pumping only water from the springs around McCloud while prohibiting the company from touching the aquifer.

Williams also said the coalition wants a contract with a shorter timeframe than McCloud's current 100-year commitment to sell its water exclusively

More water news as it happens, Undergrounders. It's not a bad way to come back home.

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Tom Chandler

As the author of the decade leading fly fishing blog Trout Underground, Tom believes that fishing is not about measuring the experience but instead of about having fun. As a staunch environmentalist, he brings to the Yobi Community thought leadership on environmental and access issues facing us today.

My understanding is the whole thing is done ...over ...not gonna happen.....YAY !!
Wait, isn't this bad? All the fish aren't going to get bottled water anymore....right? There goes the neighborhood!

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