Kitzhaber declines to take sides in Nestle bottle plant protests
By Gretchen Holzgang
Gov. John Kitzhaber is keeping out of the controversy over a proposal to build a Nestle water bottling plant in Cascade Locks.
Gov. John Kitzhaber announced last week that he would not take a position on the protests against the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s water access request for a proposed $50 million Nestle Corp. water bottling plant, as reported by Hood River News.
The proposal to build a Nestle bottling plant in Cascade Locks, which would tap access to both the state-controlled Oxbow Springs and Cascade Locks-controlled ground water, has raised protest from multiple environmental groups against the water rights exchange.
The proposed plant would draw some 100 million gallons of water a year between both sites.
“The governor will not be intervening and will let the process play out like it is intended,” confirmed Amy Wojcicki, a representative from the governor’s office, at a Cascade Locks Committee on Economic Development meeting last week.
To proceed with the bottle plant, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife requested two additional “points of diversion” on its existing water rights with the Oregon Water Resources Department, essentially splitting the water rights with Nestle.
OWRD issued a preliminary determination to allow the additional points of diversion. As of March 29, two legal challenges were filed by nonprofit organizations, Bark and Food and Water Watch, against the determination.
The first challenge address alleged damages to other water users if the division split is allowed. The second argues that the fish and wildlife department has, in essence, forfeited its rights to the Oxbow Spring to Nestle bases on a mismatch between its actual in-use draw-point and the legally authorized draw-point.
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