A Fair Trade? Cascade Locks Wants Jobs, Nestle Wants Water

OPB News
Rob Manning | October 27, 2010 | Portland, OR

Opponents of a proposed water bottling plant in Cascade Locks say they’ve gathered well over 4000 critical letters and postcards, leading up to a comment deadline this Friday.

In order for the Nestle company to proceed with its plans for a bottling plant, a trade of spring water for groundwater has to go through.

It involves the city of Cascade Locks and the state of Oregon. And that trade needs the approval of the state Water Resources Department.

Supportive local officials praise the potential for the plant to offer jobs. Environmental groups say the exchange raises a host of red flags.

Julia DeGraw with Food and Water Watch says the trade could endanger migrating salmon and potentially threaten the long-term drinking water supply.

She has an ideological problem with the trade, too.

Julia DeGraw: “This would be the first time that a state agency would be essentially giving away its water, so that Nestle can bottle it, and profit from it, and we think that’s a dangerous precedent to be setting.”

Nestle has said its water withdrawals would be monitored for sustainability.

The Water Resources Department expects to go over the comments submitted through Friday, and make a decision next year some time.