Legislators urge governor to block Nestle deal


Nine Oregon lawmakers send a letter to Gov. Kate Brown discouraging a proposed water deal with Nestle.

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BY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Nine Oregon lawmakers sent a letter to Gov. Kate Brown last week discouraging a proposed water deal with Nestle.

According to the letter, the agreement “evades public interest review while enabling a private company to extract Oregon’s clean water.”

From the Statesman Journal:

The controversy centers on state-owned water rights at Oxbow Springs, near Cascade Locks in the Columbia Gorge. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife uses the water for a nearby salmon hatchery. For six years, the Swiss company Nestlé has been trying to tap the spring for a bottling plant it would build in Cascade Locks, providing about 50 jobs in the small, economically depressed town. The city had been aiming to trade its well water gallon-for-gallon with the state’s Oxbow Springs water, then sell the spring water to Nestlé.

That plan has generated more than 80,000 letters in opposition over the years, said Alex P. Brown, executive director of Bark, a nonprofit that works to preserve the Mount Hood National Forest, where the springs originate. The plan also faced an extensive review to determine whether it served the public interest. Earlier this month, the city and state decided to pursue a new agreement that would permanently trade water rights instead of just water. That does not require a public-interest review.

Sen. Michael Dembrow (D-Portland) said: “We’re trading high-value spring water for lower-value well water. It’s state water we’re talking about. It’s not Cascade Locks’ water. Everybody has an interest in this.”

 




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