Bottled Water Not So Hot for Economy Either, Report Finds – PlanetSave

Bottled Water Not So Hot for Economy Either, Report Finds

Mount ShastaEnvironmentalists already have good reason to despise bottled-water companies, but local economic development folks might now have reason to question the industry too. That’s the message from opponents of a proposed Nestle water-bottling facility in McCloud, California, a small community with natural springs fed by the glaciers of Mount Shasta.

McCloud’s defenders today released an economic study that casts a skeptical light on Nestle’s predictions that the plant would bring more local jobs and an improved local economy. Most of the promised jobs would probably be filled by people from outside the area, while others would be entry-level, low-paying positions. Furthermore, the report added, building a large water-bottling plant in a place known for its natural beauty could drive away some residents and businesses over time.

“The proposed facility threatens to consume one of the area’s most valuable assets: its water,” said Kristin Lee, an economist with the consulting firm ECONorthwest and one of the authors of the report.

ECONorthwest prepared the study on behalf of the McCloud Watershed Council, a volunteer-based residents’ organization working to preserve the quality of the region’s watershed. The group is fighting Nestle’s plan to build a one-million-square foot water-bottling plant in the former logging community, which has a population of about 1,200. If constructed, the McCloud facility’s size would make it the largest water-bottling plant in the U.S.

“It would be the largest building in Northern California,” said Brian Stranko, CEO of California Trout, a group that works to protect and restore wild trout populations in California waters. “You could fit every building in McCloud into it.”

The area’s environmentalists and local residents oppose the plant on many levels. They object to the McCloud Community Services District’s agreement to sell local water to Nestle at “far below” market value. They warn that Nestle’s contract would give the company control of local water supplies for 50, possibly even 100 years. They fear the facility’s impact on the environment, on downstream users of local water, on the region’s attractiveness for tourism and outdoor recreation. And, now, armed with the ECONorthwest report, they worry the plant won’t be as good a deal for the local economy as Nestle says.

That’s now the message they’re hoping to deliver to the McCloud Community Services District, which inked the original deal with Nestle and — they say — still retains the power to renegotiate the terms of its contract with the company.

“It’s not too late for the (district) to reconsider this contract,” said Sid Johnson, a member of the McCloud Watershed Council. “We’re not sure they’re aware of that.”

Nestle Waters is the world’s top seller of bottled water. As of 2006, it sold 72 different brands of bottled water — including San Pelligrino, Perrier, Aquarel, Ozarka, Zephyrhills and Deer Park — around the globe.

About the Author

Shirley Siluk Gregory, a transplanted Chicagoan now living in Northwest Florida, represents the progressive half of Green Options' Red, Green and Blue segment. She holds a bachelor's degree in Geological Sciences from Northwestern University but graduated in 1984, just when the market for geologists was flatter than the Florida landscape. Just as well, though: she had little interest in spending her life either in a laboratory or, heaven forbid, an oil field. So, of course, she went into journalism. After extremely low-paying but fun and educational stints at several suburban Chicago weeklies and dailies, Shirley and her then-boyfriend/now-husband Scott found themselves displaced by a media buyout and spending the next several years working as freelancers. Among their credits: The Chicago Tribune, a publication for the manufactured-housing industry, and Web Hosting Magazine, a now-defunct publication that came and went with the dotcom era. Shirley's always been concerned about nature and conservation (and an avid pack-rat, as her family can attest to), but became even more rabidly interested in the environment primarily due to two factors: the growing signs that global warming was real and threatening, and the birth of her son, Noah, in 2003. Suddenly, the prospect of a world that might not be quite as habitable in 40 or 50 years took on a whole new, and personal, meaning. Living where she lives now also helped light the fire of Shirley's environmental awareness: her hometown was severely damaged by Hurricane Ivan in 2004, and beaten up again by Hurricane Dennis in 2005. That, and the fact that she and her family were vacationing in New Orleans until the day before Katrina -- and spent 12 hours driving home for a trip that normally takes 3 -- has made Shirley deeply appreciate how fragile our lifestyles are, and how dependent they are on sound management of natural resources and sustainable living practices. That's why she's become a passionate reader and writer about all things green and sustainable.
  • Uncle B

    Great convulsive paradigm shifts afoot at the moment for the American people, as their dollar shrinks to all-time lows in the world. Astounding hyper inflation is about to be set lose on Americans and it will spiral upward as employment opportunities die in face of it and caused by it. Americans – doomed to return to the “Dirty Thirty” lifestyle, where the Uber-Rich have far too much, the poorer folk grovel at their feet for scraps of bread!This is a normal part of the Capitalistic, Corporatist state of affairs, do not fear it, just suffer through it until a WWII size event or bigger breaks the cycle and we see limited short lived prosperity again before the next down cycle! The American Way! Free! Free to starve in the dark while others feast on our very flesh!