For years, residents of the small town of McCloud near Mount Shasta did battle with Nestlé Waters North America. The people up there simply didn’t want the water-bottling giant to suck their aquifer dry. Even Attorney General Jerry Brown got involved, threatening to sue Nestlé for not having done adequate environmental review of the plan.
A few weeks back, on September 10, Nestlé got tired of the mounting public opposition and bailed on their plan. Yes, the company gave up on McCloud—it’s coming to south Sacramento instead.
Nestlé will pay industrial water rates for 30 million gallons of city tap water every year (opponents say it could be almost four times as much as that) and sell it back to us, as SN&R Cosmo Garvin has reported, “in plastic bottles for 1,000 times what they paid for it.”
Mayor Kevin Johnson is gung-ho for this project. But hold on. Aren’t we being a bit shortsighted here?
How could a project like this be approved without so much as an environmental review or public hearing? How is it that we residents are stuck with pretty strict watering schedules, but a project like this, by one of the fastest-growing and least-regulated industries around, doesn’t even merit an environmental impact report?
Also, the city has a “Sustainability Master Plan,” and our leaders supposedly want to incorporate the idea of sustainability into all of its operations. How does a business intent on the privatization of a common property such as water fit in with the city’s sustainability goals?
Instead of welcoming Nestlé in blithely with open arms, city leaders should slow this project down, require an EIR, consider Nestlé’s troublesome record in other towns and seek public input.