When people see the Nestle logo, it’s usually on a candy wrapper that their loud kids are begging for at the checkout line.
Nestle is moving forward on expanding its water operations to Cascade Locks. Its application is pending approval by the Oregon Department of Water Resources, but organizations like Food and Water Watch are fighting the company every step of the way.
One of the concerns is that the pumping could cause water temperatures to rise in the cold water coves that migrating salmon use as a refuge in the summer when the Columbia River warms up.
Nestle hired Kramer Fish Services to carry out a study, and “the basic conclusion was that the changes in water temperature that may occur as a result of sending a small amount of warm water into the creek would not affect the salmon refuge,” says Linda Mullen, community relations contractor for Nestle.
Despite the good news for Nestle, Mullen says the result of the study won’t satisfy Food and Water Watch. “They’ll find something else,” she says.
The study was done using rainbow trout, the industry’s testing standard, and Julia DeGraw, Northwest organizer at Food & Water Watch, says they should test the impact on the area’s sockeye salmon.
“They won’t be able to warm the water with this water exchange to a degree that breaks EPA standards … but that doesn’t mean we should be reckless about raising temperatures of a cold water refuge even if it is slightly,” says DeGraw. “And even if there was no impact to wild fish, our real concern is that water is a public resource and water shouldn’t be put into bottles and sold, ever. That’s our position.”
Mullen says that the majority of the people in the town are supportive of the plant, which would bring revenues as a city water customer and employer. She says some concerns have been brought up at meetings, such as the potential traffic impact, and that both the previous and the new city council and mayor have been supportive of the project.
While DeGraw also says the new city government supports Nestle’s plans, she says they’re “more open to asking challenging questions and not necessarily bending over backwards for Nestle.”
Other concerns of Food and Water Watch are the potential for Nestle to use water that Oxbow Hatchery is using, and the fear that the company will over-pump.
“And opening up the state partnership where the state would approve giving away state water resources to a multinational corporation so that it can bottle and sell it is a huge step in the wrong direction in terms of water resources,” fears DeGraw.
The goal for her organization is to lobby Governor John Kitzhaber to block the water exchange. She says the decision is not likely to be made until later this year or next year.
The full report of the study performed by Kramer Fish Services can be found at nestlewaterspnw.com/materials.aspx. For more information on Food and Water Watch, visit their website at foodandwaterwatch.org.