Unbottle and Protect Chaffee County Water, LLC

Stand Together

In opposition to the renewal of the Nestle Waters permit

New! Updated info! As of Oct 14th 2020:

Due to local Covid upticks, public commenting will be mostly virtual. There will still be public hearings – held at 5 pm Tues October 20th – and at 9 am Thursday October 22nd – and a third one has been added for 5pm Thursday October 22nd. Now the Tuesday meeting will only be for watching presentations by Nestle, the county staff, and the Nestle opposition. The two meetings on Thursday will be for public comment. 

Virtual attendance via Zoom does not require RSVP, but to comment, on Thursday, please text 719-221-1579 with your name, address, and Zoom username.  Zoom link info: 

www.chaffeecounty.org (right side column)

Ten years ago, concerned citizens of Chaffee County rallied and put up a fight when Nestle Waters of North America Inc. applied for a permit to build a pipeline and extract up to 65 millions gallons of water per year from Ruby Mountain Springs.

Despite the great public outcry, the county commissioners at that time approved the permit.

Times have changed.

We know even more about climate change, and the effects of hauling up to 25 truckloads of water daily to Denver. We know more about single-use plastic waste polluting water, filling landfills, and the difficulties associated with recycling it.

Chaffee County’s population has drastically increased over the last decade, and concerns over water availability for new developments have increased too.

As the Nestle permit is now up for renewal, we hope the current commissioners will vote for the citizens’ interests, rather than for the interests of a multinational corporation. 

Tuesday, October 20th, 5pm
Thursday, October 22nd, 9am
Thursday, October 22nd, 5pm

The two meetings on Thursday will be for public comment. 

Virtual attendance via Zoom does not require RSVP, but to comment, on Thursday, please text 719-221-1579 with your name, address, and Zoom username. 

Zoom link info: http://www.chaffeecounty.org

Gallons per Minute

Truckloads of water per day

Million gallons of water per year

What can you do?

Stay Informed–Resources

Recent articles/letters regarding Nestle in Chaffee County

 Nestlé’s plan stirs contentious fight – The Colorado Sun (Oct. 26, 2020)

 Nestle 1041 Hearings Begin (Oct. 21, 2020)

Chaffee County Stands up to Nestle (Oct. 18, 2020)

Nestle’s slick spin

 Ark Valley Voice Nestle Series – Part 1


Notice of Public Hearing for Nestle Waters 1041 Permit Renewal (Sept. 18, 2020)

Nestle Seeks More Time in Chaffee County as Locals Ask to be Unbottled (Sept. 9, 2020)

Leave the Water, Tell Nestle to Leave. Letter to Mountain Mail Editor (Sept. 04, 2020)

Nestle 1041 permit public hearing set for Oct. 20 (Aug 17, 2020)

Conservancy district consultant discusses water law issues (May 19, 2020)

Nestlé opposition raises conflict of interest concerns (May 12, 2020)

Nestle Waters clarifies its Chaffee County 1041 Permit Process (May 8, 2020)

Disappointed in lack of public comment opportunity for Nestle 1041 permit renewal (Apr 29, 2020)

Letter to Colorado Central Magazine Editor – No New Permit for Nestlé (APRIL 4, 2020)

Local residents oppose Nestlé permit extension (April 3, 2020)

County Commissioners may postpone Nestlé hearing (March 31, 2020)

Nestlé submits 2019 report (March 19, 2020)

Letter to the Mountain Mail Editor Criticizes Nestlé Waters (March 11, 2020)

County reports Nestlé has been ‘exceedingly responsive’ (Mar 4, 2020)

Nestlé 1041 Permit: Company meets conditions for community giving, river access (Feb. 25, 2020)

Nestle Water public hearing re-set for April 2020. (Dec 31, 2019)

County sets January hearings for Nestle (Dec 9, 2019)

Nestle Water 1041 permit decision delayed six months (Oct 16, 2019)

Rio Frio Minor Subdivision approved (Sept 26. 2019)

Historic articles/letters regarding Nestle in Chaffee County

Background on the Hagen exception and controversy. (See related reports under land/water tab).

Must our water always flow uphill toward money? High County News (April 2, 2009)

Pressure builds over bottled water – Christian Science Monitor (Oct. 22, 2009)

A new kind of water war springs up – LA Times (April 2, 2009)

Nestle plan sets off water war – Denver Post (March 22, 2009)

Nestle water deal rained down cash on key Chaffee County locals (Aug. 12, 2010)

Nestle to begin draining millions of gallons of Arkansas River water (June 16, 2010)

Nestle OK’d to turn Arkansas River springs into bottled water product (July 27, 2010)

Nestle water plan approved – High Country News (Aug. 24, 2009)

Nestlé begins reclamation project near Ruby Mountain (May 8, 2012)

Dates set for Nestle meetings (Feb 19, 2009)

Nestlé begins reclamation project near Ruby Mountain (May 8, 2012)

Nestle water details outlined by Nestle Rep. (Jun 30, 2008)

Check out all the passionate, inspiring community letters posted in “Salida Citizen” in 2009! (Especially during the public hearings that took place in March and April).

Jan 24 -Feb 16 ; Feb 16 – March 13 ; March 13-March 26 ; March 26 – April 9 ; April 10 – April 22 ; April 22-April 30May 1-May 10 ; May 13-June 9 ; June 9-June 22 ; June 22-July 10 ; July 10-Aug 7 ; Aug 9-Sept 2 ; Sept 4-Oct 1 ; Oct 2 –Oct 16

Articles about Nestle in other communities:

San Bernardino CA

Fryeburg Maine

In Florida, Troubled Waters As Nestlé Pushes for More – New York Times (March 9, 2020)

Nestle Waters leaving Canada is a community success (July 2020)

Subcommittee Chairman Rouda and Vice Chair Tlaib Launch Investigation into Bottled Water Industry Practices (Mar 3, 2020)

Coca-Cola, Nestlé and PepsiCo named top plastic polluters for the second year in a row (October 23, 2019)

States look at banning, restricting bottling firms from tapping local groundwater -Washington Post (Feb. 17 2020)

Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation vs Nestlé Waters North America/Ice Mountain (December 1, 2016)

How Nestlé Gets Away With Pumping California’s Water for Next to Nothing Los Angeles Magazine (August 12, 2016)

A Town Torn Apart by Nestlé. Business Week. (April 16, 2008)

Nestle continues stealing worlds water during drought (March 20th, 2015)

1. Operating on land of state-wide interest requires a 1041 permit

Chaffee County commissioners can choose to deny Nestle Waters’ permit if they don’t find that the “benefits accruing county and citizens outweigh loss of resources or losses of opportunity to develop resources.” [1041 regulations 3-303 (1)(k)(vi)]

The permit could also be denied if they don’t find that “the need for the project can be substantiated.” Is Nestle’s operation beneficial or needed? [1041 regulations 3-303 (1)(a)]

2. Nestle’s “philanthropy” is mandatory

Nestle’s community giving is a condition of their permit to mitigate the company’s impacts. How much does it cost to silence opposition from local organizations? Compared to the profits this multi-billion-dollar company makes from the water extracted here, is the approximately $270k given to area schools over the span of a decade nearly enough?

3. Plastic Pollution issues have increased locally and globally

According to their annual reports, Nestle has contributed 292,596 plastic water bottles to the community since their permit was approved in 2009. Plastic pollution and global awareness of the issue has drastically increased over that ten-year term. Although Nestle requests another 10-year 1041 permit, such long terms are not necessary. Now days the county is subsidizing community recycling efforts. Should Nestle’s donations of single-use plastic water bottles still be considered an asset, rather than an impact?

4. Non-Compliance and conflicts of interest

As part of the original permit agreement, Nestle offered to put their land (located next to what is now Browns Canyon National Monument) into a permanent conservation easement “concurrent with construction of the project.” Over ten years have passed, and yet Nestle still has not done this. The company did, however, trade off the most valuable property, maximizing river frontage for the soon-to-be built Rio Frio Minor subdivision. A Nestle-paid consultant, who simultaneously served on the Chaffee County planning commission for 9 years, voted to approve the minor subdivision in Sept. 2019, before resigning from the county position this year.

Should an offer by Nestle to now put a conservation easement on their land, which surrounds the subdivision, still be considered fulfillment of their original agreement – despite the land swap? Nestle is floating a proposal to have Colorado Parks and Wildlife manage the land under a conservation easement if their permit is renewed. Is this seemingly philanthropic offer actually out of necessity because Nestle has not been in compliance with their land management plans (i.e. noxious weed management and grazing requirements)?

5. Sustainability and climate change

Nestle is currently allowed up to 200 gallons of water per minute, 65 million gallons per year, and up to 25 trucks per day. They have been taking less than half of that, so we can expect that impacts on the aquifer and traffic will more than double when they take the maximum amounts. Why wasn’t increased production or climate change factored into a Nestle-provided report which determined their operation here “sustainable?”

Fortunately, Colorado water law requires Nestle to augment the water they extract. But does the replacement water, which comes from reservoirs and is released into the Arkansas River, mitigate all that is lost from the aquifer where Nestle’s wells are located? And although the replacement water is deemed drinkable, is it the same quality as the “spring water” that Nestle sucks and trucks out of the Upper Arkansas River Valley?

6. Lack of transparency

Nestle, a Swiss company with a global reputation of humanitarian and environmental abuses, self-monitors and self-reports with little review by Chaffee County professionals. And Nestle has requested to do even less monitoring (technical revision #12).

Nestle spells out in their request for renewal that they wish to quickly renew their permit as-is and will request revisions later (when not under the scrutiny of a public hearing).

Why isn’t a vetted third-party (one not of Nestle’s choosing but paid for by Nestle) providing oversight?

7. Lack of local employment

Nestle failed to meet the permit requirement to hire at least 50% percent of their truck drivers from Chaffee County, despite relocating some drivers here. The company has employed as many as 13 residents (in 2017) and as few as 5 (in 2019). The county expected far more local residents could be hired and those economic benefits were a factor when approving Nestle’s permit in 2009. How will the difference between the economic benefit that was expected and the economic reality be recovered?

Back to point #1, Do benefits accruing county and citizens outweigh the losses? Is Nestle’s operation needed here?

Nestleave--In opposition to the renewal of the Nestle Waters permit

Tuesday, October 20th, 5pm
Thursday, October 22nd, 9am
Thursday, October 22nd, 5pm

The two meetings on Thursday will be for public comment. 

Virtual attendance via Zoom does not require RSVP, but to comment, on Thursday, please text 719-221-1579 with your name, address, and Zoom username. 

Zoom link info: http://www.chaffeecounty.org

Unbottle and Protect Chaffee County Water, LLC