***** WE WON! Kate Brown asked ODFW to withdraw its proposal to transfer water to Cascade Locks for the proposed Nestlé Bottling Plant, read the letter here. Good work all! ******
Nestlé proposed to bottle over 100 million gallons of water per year from Oxbow Springs, a publicly-owned water source in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. The accompanying bottling plant would be built in the city of Cascade Locks and would strain existing water and transportation infrastructure, requiring millions of dollars of upgrades. Despite this, and the 200 semi-truck trips through town every day, city officials supported the proposal based on Nestlé’s promise of up to 50 new jobs.
Bark was a lead member of the Keep Nestlé Out of the Gorge Coalition, representing many tens of thousands of concerned citizens who did not want Nestlé to take their water. Bark facilitated over 94,000 people in telling state officials that the Oxbow Springs giveaway is not in the “public interest,” a standard by which the application is measured. Nestlé wanted to avoid that standard by having the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) permanently transfer its water right, which surprisingly does not require a public interest assessment.
Governor Kate Brown and ODFW Director Curt Melcher inherited this mess, but Nestlé asked them to dig in–to bypass Oregonians’ interests and permanently give away the State’s right to Oxbow Springs.
Just 100 yards outside of Mt. Hood National Forest’s northern boundary Oxbow Springs flow out of the ground into the Herman Creek watershed, known for its outstanding trail system. Herman Creek is also a thermal refuge (cold spots where tributaries dump into the warm Columbia River) for threatened steelhead and salmon. Oxbow Springs is currently permitted to the State of Oregon to supply water for a salmon and steelhead hatchery run by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW).
In 2010, at the request of Nestlé Waters North America and the City of Cascade Locks, then Governor Ted Kulongoski directed the Department of Fish and Wildlife to initiate an exchange of water that would trade .5 cubic feet per second, or CFS, of the pristine spring water for well water from Cascade Locks’ municipal system. The City would then provide the water to Nestlé at its normal commercial water rate of approximately .2 cents per gallon.
Bark and Food and Water Watch, represented by Crag Law Center, have continuously challenged this process including protest of the Oregon Water Resources Department’s approval of permits that move Nestlé one key step closer to bottling and selling Oregon’s water.
The application to exchange our public water to support Nestlé can still be withdrawn by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, but Governor Kate Brown should direct her staff to support the withdrawal. Governor Brown’s predecessor (Kulongoski) made a grave mistake in declaring that Oregon’s water is for sale to Nestlé. It is time to fix the mistake. Call or email Governor Kate Brown today. No new applications giving away public water rights should be pursued by state agencies, either. Contact ODFW Director Melcher now at 503-947-6044 and communicate that. Please see the many associated legal files and news articles below. Thank you.