Salem Statesman Journal: Protestors decry bottled water plan for the Gorge

Written by Peter Wong
Salem Statesman Journal

Opponents of a bottled-water plant in the Columbia Gorge took their protest Monday afternoon to the Capitol.

About two dozen children and adults displayed several banners, with more than 1,000 pieces of recycled material fashioned into origami attached. Then they delivered the rolled-up banners to Gov. John Kitzhaber’s office.

Nestlé Waters has obtained a permit from the Oregon Department of Water Resources. But the permit relies on a proposed exchange of water rights by the city of Cascade Locks and the Department of Fish and Wildlife, which operates a hatchery — and protesters want Kitzhaber to intervene.

Annee von Borg,who spoke for Resources for Health based in Hillsboro, said the issue isn’t the proposed plant’s location.

“It’s really the bottled-water industry,” she said. “It’s just a matter of time before an unsustainable polluting industry falls by the wayside.”

Local officials support the $50 million plant, which would create 50 permanent jobs and use up to 100 million gallons of spring water annually. The proposal has been in the works since 2009. Von Borg, however, said approval would amount to a “sellout to greedy corporations that have a lot of power.”

The plant cannot proceed until the exchange of rights is final. The matter is before an administrative law judge, who will conduct a formal courtroom-type hearing.