An Update on Nestlé and Water in Oregon {Take Action!}

Keep Nestlé Out of the Columbia River Gorge!

A Confusing Letter From The Water Resources Department

Oregonians, 5,000 strong, submitted public comment to the Oregon Water Resources Department in 2011 regarding a water transfer application that is a key step toward a Nestlé water bottling plant in Oregon. The transfer application has to be fully processed in order for the department to proceed with the controversial water exchange between Cascade Locks and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife that would open up the door to Nestlé bottling our water.

Last week Oregon’s Water Resources Department (WRD) let all 5,000 people who commented know of its preliminary determination on the transfer application.

What this preliminary determination states exactly is where things become a little murky. The letter was full of language that left most of us wondering just what it really meant and what to do now. {I know that I had that reaction.}

In short: the Water Resources Department green lighted the transfer application. This is not a final decision though: Food & Water Watch and its allies have 30 days to protest this decision (which they will) which leads to a long drawn out process to change the WRD’s decision.

The Water Exchange Process – And How Nestlé Fits In

Now, to understand more about the meaning of the letter you have to understand the water exchange process. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) plans to give some of the water from Oxbow Springs-that they already divert to their fish hatchery-to the town of Cascade Locks. This would allow the town to then sell that water (for fractions of a penny per gallon) to Nestlé.

Nestlé will also bottle water from Cascade Locks’ municipal water. The company would charge more for the spring water (which is what make the enterprise so profitable for them) under its Arrowhhead brand and would bottle the town’s water under its Nestlé Pure Life brand, which they sell for less. This deal is great for Nestle’s bottom line and bad for Oregonians as well as our water resources.

Interestingly, going through the water exchange process with Nestlé, ODFW discovered that they have not been in compliance with their own water right – they were diverting water to the fish hatchery from the wrong place, hence the confusion from the letter.

ODFW has submitted two applications (confusingly called “transfer applications) to become compliant. Approval of these applications will then allow Nestlé to get one step closer to their goal of a water bottling plant in the gorgeous Columbia River Gorge at the expense of the people, the wildlife, and the environment.

The letter that 5,000 commenters received states the WRD’s preliminary determination to approve ODFW’s transfer applications – applications that must be fully processed before WRD can move forward with the water exchange application at all. While the acceptance of Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s transfer application does not grant a state give away of water for Nestlé profit it does put them one step closer to that outcome.

Food & Water Watch and its allies will be filing a protest against this application, but we need your help!

How You Can Help Keep Nestlé Out of the Columbia River Gorge

The one person that can definitively intervene is Governor John Kitzhaber. The Water Resources Department and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife have continued to move forward because there has been no move made to stop them from the governor’s office despite the thousands of people who care enough to take action against it. Gov. Kitzhaber. needs to stop the process before the state wastes any more resources on any of the transfer or exchange applications having to do with this project.

Action is needed now before any more time or resources are lost. We need to put pressure on Governor Kitzhaber to intervene with the state agencies to pull out of the water exchange issue completely. We need concerned citizens to call and write Governor Kitzhaber.

Tips to Contact Governor Kitzhaber

What to Ask For:

•    Ask the Governor to advise Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to pull out of the process to exchange its spring water, at Oxbow Springs, with Cascade Locks’ well water.

•    Then, ask that the Governor advise the Oregon Water Resources Department to deny the water exchange application (Transfer #11109).

What to Say:

Dear Governor John Kitzhaber,

1) The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area is NO place for a water bottling facility.

2) Water belongs to all Oregonians and a state agency should not be in the business of assisting a multi-national corporation from privatizing and profiting from this valuable state resource at the expense of our water table, wildlife, and ecosystems.

3) Nestlé has a proven track record of destroying local water systems in the other rural American towns where they have privatized water and I do not want to see this happen in Cascade Locks. The promised economic benefit is not worth it and that is even if Nestlé follows through with that promise.

4) Nestlé has stated that Oregon taxpayers would be responsible for upgrading and maintaining Cascade Locks’ roads. These road upgrades will only be necessary because of the increased traffic to and from the water bottling facility, with more than 200 truck trips a day during peak bottling season.

5) The water exchange between Cascade Locks and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is illegal and should be denied outright and the Governor can include that in his recommendation to both agencies.

Sincerely, (Your Name)

Contact Information for Governor Kitzhaber:



Send a Letter (address the governor in your salutation in the letter but address it to his Natural Resource Office):

Attn: Richard Whitman 
Governor’s Natural Resources Office
 Public Service Building, Ste 126
255 Capitol Street NE 
Salem, OR


An Update on Nestlé and Water in Oregon {Take Action!} — 3 Comments

  1. Oh how awful that this is even on the agenda! Oregon has the most beautiful, tastiest water supply ever and Nestle will surely change that!! I hope people realize they CAN change things with their voice!

    • This has been a concern for a while now, but we are reaching a critical juncture. It is up to us to use our voice to change our world for the better! I hope that Oregonians can see that and see the support from around the country.

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