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Nestle Waters expects to be a good neighbor

MYVIEW • Environmental concerns at heart of Cascade Locks water deal
by: Christopher Onstott, Cascade Locks hopes to lure Nestlé bottling plant to the town of 1,000 where the unemployment rate is 20 percent, although many residents are worried Nestle might over-promise and under-delivered on jobs.

As a representative of Nestle Waters North America, I'd like to correct several errors in the opinion piece by Julia DeGraw and Martin Donohoe recently published (Don't auction our gorge water, Dec. 16). I understand that not everyone agrees with us, but I hope people will form their opinions based on more accurate information.

The water exchange between the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Department and the city of Cascade Locks is not a giveaway. The agency is seeking to exchange water - gallon for gallon - with the city of Cascade Locks. There would be no net loss of water for hatchery operations. In fact, if ODFW so chooses, the project could allow the agency to expand its capacity to raise more endangered fish.

Jobs - Nestle Waters North America delivers on its commitments. Don't take my word for it. The town of Black Diamond, Wash., contacted several locales where Nestle Waters operates, with questions about jobs and other issues. In every case, respondents said Nestle Waters kept its promises.

Find the unedited comments by scrolling to the bottom of the Materials page on our website, nestlewaterspnw.com .

I encourage caution whenever someone applies what's true 'on average' to a specific location. A two-line bottling facility typically employs about 50 people. That's what we are planning in Cascade Locks. Across the country, Nestle Waters employs more than 8,000 people. We are proud of that, as we are also proud of our good neighbor policy, a set of 10 principles that define how we take active and positive roles in the cities we call home. These include practices such as environmental responsibility, stewardship of natural resources and giving back to our communities.

A few examples:

• Nestle Waters North America has nine facilities with LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification. Each new plant is built to LEED standards.

• We manage about 14,000 acres of land surrounding spring water sites to protect the source and surrounding habitat.

• Nestle Waters North America supports water resources and health education and is there to contribute to local needs as varied as sponsorships for the construction of sports fields to providing bottled water for emergency response.

The examples about our operations in other communities are incomplete. Nestle Waters has not caused springs or aquifers to dry up, or to endanger their ability to perform in Maine, Michigan or elsewhere. The company complies with the requirements of the permits granted to it by local or state authorities in Maine, Michigan, and other communities across the country.

Cascade Locks uses about 215 gallons per minute (gpm) of its already-approved right of about 1,800 gpm for groundwater. The city has about 5,000 gpm of additional surface water rights.

At the behest of environmentalists and fish advocates, Nestle Waters North America funded a study conducted by Cramer Fish Services. The purpose: to understand the potential of this project to affect a cold water refuge for migrating salmon and steelhead at Herman Creek Cove. Representatives from Trout Unlimited, the Association of Northwest Steelheaders and the Native Fish Society all provided useful input to help design the study.

Conclusion: potential changes to water temperatures resulting from this project will not affect Herman Creek Cove's function as a cold water refuge.

Truck traffic? We ship most of our product to the Northwest from Southern California. Locating closer to our customers in Portland and Seattle will significantly reduce truck traffic and associated emissions. We are working closely with the people of Cascade Locks to understand and address their questions about trucks traveling to, in and from their community.

We understand that people have questions about us and our proposal. We work hard to answer them directly. I invite people who want to know more about the proposal to build a water bottling facility in Cascade Locks to visit our website, nestlewaterspnw.com .

David Palais, Ph.D., is a natural resource manager for Nestle Waters North America and is an Oregon Registered Geologist.