Unbottle and Protect Chaffee County Water

 Unbottle and Protect Chaffee County Water is a non-profit organization. We formed to represent Chaffee County Citizens who united  against renewal of a permit authorizing Nestle Waters to mine water from Ruby Mountain Springs.  Citizens armed with common sense and an increasing knowledge about climate change and plastic pollution knew this was simply not a good operation, but we built a solid case based on Nestle’s permit non-compliance and broken promises.  

You can watch our first presentation at the Oct. 20, 2020 public hearing here:  https://youtu.be/1bnmg4HcWM 
(it is 2 hours of Nestle followed by one hour from us “the opposition”).

You can watch our last presentation at the  June 1st, 2021 public hearing here:

(starting about 4:22:30 followed by Q&A and public comments). 

Unbottle Chaffee is committed to holding county public officials and the Blue Triton corporation accountable for permit compliance and transparency. In addition to serving as a watchdog group, we promote education about water issues and access to drinking water that is free of corporate commodification and plastic pollution. We have a three-pronged approach:
–>TRUTH: Continue researching and reporting past processes
–> TRANSPARENCY: Watchdogging current permit compliance
–> TRANSFORMATION: Work for future sustainable solutions

 On July 6, 2021, Commissioners voted 2 to 1 to approve a 10-year permit for BlueTriton Brands

(formerly Nestle Waters).


 The company is permitted to suck and truck water from Chaffee County to Denver, where it is bottled, and sold in single-use plastic across the country as Arrowhead Brand Spring Water.

Un-bottle & Protect Chaffee County Water thanks Commissioner Keith Baker for his dissenting vote. 

We persist as a watchdog organization.

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 

 They’re Essentially Turning Water into Garbage – Colorado Public Radio (August 2, 2021) 

County to Deliberate Permit Conditions (July 20, 2021)

 Company Bottling Water In Chaffee County Met With Strong Opposition – CBS4 Denver (July 21, 2020)

Permit approved on a two to one vote (July 7, 2021)

Final public comments heard (June 2, 2021)

The Problem with Nestle – Colorado Central Magazine (June 2021)

 Proclamation to deny Nestle Permit (May 10, 2021)

 Hearing addresses Nestlé changes; Commissioners hear public comments (May 6, 2021)

Commissioners to discuss Nestle name change to BlueTriton at April 20 meeting (April 14, 2021)

Online Rally opposing Nestle (March 19, 2021)

Transfer of water to private equity firms stirs opposition in US and Canada (Feb. 17, 2021)

Nestle Waters to Sell North American Water Business (Feb. 17, 2021)

Nestle and the Commissioners Discuss Recycling (Jan. 22, 2021)

County approves economic study (Dec. 23, 2020)

Nestle Saga Continues (Nov. 19, 2020)

County Commissioners re-open public comments (Nov. 6, 2020) 

Community has spoken – No Renewal! Letter to the Editor (Oct. 31, 2020)

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

 Majority of Comments Oppose Nestle Permit Extension (Oct. 23, 2020)

Nestle 1041 Hearings Begin (Oct. 21, 2020)

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

The Real Cost of Extending Nestle’s permit (Oct. 14, 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)

Articles about Nestle in other communities:

Drought-hit California moves to halt Nestlé from taking millions of gallons of water (April 27, 2021)

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)

 Presentation of Nestle’s (BlueTriton Brands) Economic Analysis

Harvey Economics (County’s) economic analysis

Presentation of Harvey Economics analysis

 2009 economic analysis and reviews

 2020 County hydrology consultant (Wheeler) Report based on Nestle-provided data

 2020 Nestle-provided sustainability report – notice footnote

 Final 2009 ecology report after Prof. Hagen influence

 Draft 2009 ecology report before Prof. Hagen influence

 Conservation Easement Baseline report (missing exhibit e) 

 Ruby Mt Land Mgmt Plan:

No Ruby Mountain Springs monitoring report for 2020

2019 Ruby Mountain Spring Monitoring Report

2018 Ruby Mountain Springs Monitoring Report

2017 Ruby Mountain Springs Monitoring Report

2016 Ruby Mountain Springs Monitoring Report

2015 Ruby Mountain Springs Monitoring Report (see pages 56-98)

2014 Ruby Mountain Springs Monitoring Report

2013 Ruby Mountain Springs Monitoring Report

No Ruby Mountain Springs monitoring report for 2009-2012 


Bighorn Springs Land Mgmt Plan:

2010 Big Horn Springs Monitoring Report

2011 Big Horn Springs Monitoring report (see pages 167-194)

2012 Big Horn Springs Monitoring Report (see pages 163-192)

2013 Big Horn Springs Monitoring Report

2014 Big Horn Springs Monitoring Report

2015 Big Horn Springs Monitoring Report

2016 Big Horn Springs Monitoring Report

2017 Big Horn Springs Monitoring Report

2018 Big Horn Springs Monitoring Report

2019 Big Horn Springs Monitoring Report

No Big Horn Springs monitoring report for 2020


2010 Grazing Management Plan (see letter on page 32-33)

2011 Grazing Management Plan

2012 Grazing Management Plan (see pages 27-54)  

2013 Grazing Management Plan (see pages 29-47)

2014 Grazing Management Plan (see pages 32-50)

2015 Grazing Management Plan (see pages 30-50)

2016 Grazing Management Plan (see pages 30-54)

2017 Grazing Management Plan (see pages 28-40)

2018 Grazing Management Plan (see pages 25-52)

2019 Grazing Management Plan (see pages 23-53)

2020 Grazing Management Plan (see letters on page 23 and page 58) 


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?”

Colorado water law requires Nestle to augment the water they extract. But does the “replacement” water, which comes from the drought-stricken Colorado River watershed, that 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).

For this extension request, the county has hired a hydrologist to review Nestle-provided data and an economist, but not an ecologist. The company recently sold to private equity companies and will be operating under a new name – Blue Triton. 

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 employed only 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