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Good News for McCloud, California in Fight Against Nestle

Nestle is scaling back their proposal for a new bottling facility ... drastically.
 
 
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Things are looking better for the town of McCloud, California where Nestle was trying to build a million square foot water bottling facility and was given a 100 year contract to potentially suck the community dry. You can read more about the scenario in our story or by visiting Corporate Accountability International.

An AP story in Business Week reported:

Nestle SA said Monday it is significantly scaling back plans in Northern California to build what would have been the country's largest water bottling plant.

The announcement by Nestle Waters North America comes after years of opposition by environmentalists and a group of residents in the rural town of McCloud.

With soaring fuel and transportation costs, building a 1 million square foot facility at the base of Mount Shasta no longer makes economic sense, said David Palais, Nestle's Northern California natural resource manager.

Nestle signed a contract in 2003 with the McCloud Community Services District to pump up to 521 million gallons of water a year. In exchange, the Swiss food and drink company agreed to pay $250,000 to $350,000 a year to the town of McCloud, about 200 miles north of Sacramento.

Apparently they are now looking to scale down to a 350,000 square feet facility and want 200 million gallons of water a year from three of McCloud's springs.

This looks like good news, but it's still a huge amount of water for town that may have greatly reduced water if snowpack continues to decline in the Shasta area in coming decades. It looks like locals are relieved to a degree but are not entirely comfortable with this new scenario.

Critics of the plant welcomed Nestle's announcement but called on McCloud's five-member services district to negotiate a better contract.

"While it certainly is a smaller plant than it would have been, it nonetheless uses a large amount of water. It's still a major operation," said Severn Williams, a spokesman for the Protect Our Waters Coalition. The coalition represents California Trout, Trout Unlimited and the McCloud Watershed Council, a citizens group.

... Williams also said the coalition wants a contract with a shorter timeframe than McCloud's current 100-year commitment to sell its water exclusively to Nestle.

It looks like all the hard work by community and environmental groups is paying off. Let's hope they keep the pressure on. Perhaps they will be able to send Nestle packing for good.

Tara Lohan is a managing editor at AlterNet.

 
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