Nestle Waters North America (NWNA) is proposing to build a water pumping facility at Ruby Mountain on the Arkansas, along with a 5-mile 8” pipeline to a truck loading station at Johnson Village south of Buena Vista to transport water by semi-truck to a bottling plant near Denver. The project will send semi-truck tankers on over 50 trips per day 24/7/365 on Highway 285 to Denver.
One issue is the environmental lunacy of hauling water from Chaffee County, to be put into plastic bottles and shipped to other mountain states. Nestle already has a bottling plant in Denver that bottles water bought from the Denver Water Board. However, in order to call their product spring water, Nestle has bought and optioned property at Ruby Mountain near Nathrop containing springs which feed into the Arkansas. It would pump the water 5 miles to Johnson Village, and finally truck it to Denver for bottling and distribution to the mountain states in more trucks.
Annual export of water will be 200 acre-feet, 65.1 million gallons, or 246.7 million liters/ year.
It has been estimated that in the most popular size 1/2 liter bottle Nestle would see gross revenue of $61,425,000 / year. That would equate to as many as 1.35 million plastic bottles per DAY from this operation, with 90% or 1.2 million going into landfills, road ditches, and waterways. It takes 2 times as much water to make and purify a bottle as it actually holds, making the total water usage triple.
It is certainly a potentially lucrative project for Nestle, a multi-national company. However, many of the impacts would be borne locally as well as by people who must travel the Highway 285 corridor.
Benefits to Chaffee County are minimal after initial construction of wells, pipeline and loading station.
The Nestle proposal has serious public safety impacts well beyond Chaffee County, along the Highway 285 corridor, including Park and Jefferson Counties. It will increase heavy truck traffic by 13% with 50+ semi-tanker -trips per day 24/7/365, according to Chaffee Planning. Tankers are more dangerous than other trucks on icy roads. South Park is notorious for ground blizzards. Further along toward Denver there is heavy morning/evening commuter traffic. Nestle claims no traffic impacts.
Most public safety agencies along 285 including Fire, Ambulance, and Sheriff are funded by mil levies on property taxes--and would get no help from Nestle.
Weekend traffic from the Front Range can be especially heavy when visitors to Chaffee County travel for boating, hiking, biking fishing, and skiing.
Mountain towns rely on 285 to allow visitors to access recreational opportunities. If visitors find excessive traffic delays, they will vote with their steering wheels and go elsewhere. Economic benefits to Park and Jefferson counties along the 285 corridor are nil.
The Chaffee Board of Commissioners will hold a hearing on Special Use and 1041 Permits at an April 21, 2009 meeting in Buena Vista at the American Legion 338 N Railroad Av. starting with planning staff reports at 1PM. Call 719-539-2218 to get agenda/schedule and time for public comment
The 1041 criteria include: “To promote the health, safety, and general welfare of the citizens of Chaffee County;… to enhance quality and quantity of recreational opportunities for residents and visitors, ” “Promote economic diversity”
Chaffee County Planner Don Reimer recently found many of the 1041 standards "not met”. He said that the Board of Commissioners could deny a permit if one standard was not met. (Plastic bottle and carbon impact are not among the 1041 criteria.)
Significant issues are expected to be:
1. Aquifer impacts : More hydrology studies are underway. There are questions about impacts to other wells from pumping-especially in dry years. Pumping tests were done in 2008 after heavy precipitation.
2. Wetlands and wildlife impacts: Nestle has made statements about conserving the area, but has been unwilling to place a conservation easement on the sites.
3. Traffic Impacts on Hwy 285: Commercial Land use Regs. say that a project shall not reduce the carrying capacity of highways. Accidents, safety, emergency services costs, visitor access. More studies due this week.
4. Liability: Chaffee could be named as a defendant in lawsuits arising out of accidents from the project or damage to other wells from pumping. Lawyers cast a wide net when naming defendants. Permit compliance could involve expensive litigation against Nestle.
5. Past Experience: Based on history of Nestle in other communities, claims of benefits offered and care to be taken by Nestle have been considered “speculative” in a recent planning commission meeting.
We can do much better at providing sustainable industry with more local benefit and less impact to our neighbors. Ask the Chaffee Commissioners to deny permits to Nestle, based on the 1041 Permit criteria.
Comments can be made at public hearing, in writing/email or both. Please write before the April 21 hearing-asap. Write from your unique perspective considering the 1041 criteria:
1) As a visitor to Chaffee County who will seek other places to visit and recreate based on traffic impacts.
2) Someone along the 285 corridor who would be impeded from getting to work, shopping, or will have to pay for higher emergency services costs.
3) A Chaffee resident or business person who would be affected by: lost tourism, more difficult travel on 285, few benefits for Chaffee County, or association with an environmentally unsound project.
Chaffee County Commissioners
P.O. Box 699, 104 Crestone Avenue
Salida, Colorado 81201 Tel. (719) 539-2218 Fax (719) 539-7442
Frank Holman firstname.lastname@example.org
Dennis Giese email@example.com
Tim Glenn firstname.lastname@example.org
Don Reimer-Chaffee County Planning: 719-530-5565
For more Info see:
Check out the staff report of 2/27/09, and consultant reports from Delia Malone, WW Wheeler and Felt, Monson & Culichia. More info is being posted.
Lots of info and articles at: WWW.salidacitizen.com
and click through Crib Sheets Tab to Nestle.
Nestle has a deplorable track record with several other communities with whom they have worked-See: http://www.stopnestlewaters.org
Chaffee 1041 Regs http://gigshowcase.com/EndUserFiles/299.pdf
Denver Post Article re Nestle Project see Comments: Nestle plan sets off water war - The Denver Post
Also read Ed Berg's letter to the MountaMail:
http://www.themountainmail.com/ click "Letters" tab
Please forward to your contacts. Ask them to email a letter to the Chaffee Commissioners ASAP.