Victory: Oregon Governor Finally Sides with Hood River County Over Nestlé

October 30, 2017
Julie Light, Kiley Fisher

The fight to keep Nestlé from grabbing water resources in Oregon cleared another hurdle.

This past Friday, Governor Brown officially backed out of a crucial deal that would have let Nestlé build a $50 million water bottling plant in Cascade Locks. The Governor told the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to officially withdraw an application that set aside up to 225 gallons per minute from Oxbow Springs for commercial sale.

This is another hard-won victory in what has been a nine-year saga to keep a Nestlé bottling plant out of the town of Cascade Locks on Columbia River Gorge. In May of 2016 Hood River County voters overwhelmingly passed a ballot measure outlawing commercial water bottling, yet the state officials pressed ahead with the water exchange, which was critical to allowing the Nestlé deal to move forward.

Meanwhile, other Columbia River communities have stood their ground and refused to allow Nestlé to seize their public water, citing its bad reputation for exploiting small towns and the nearly cartoonish villainy of former Nestlé CEO Peter Brabeck, who once stated that water is not a human right.

We’ve been proud to join the fight with our long-standing partners and are glad that Governor Brown’s action upholds the will of Hood River County voters.

This is a victory that belongs to many groups and individuals, and congratulations are due for Bark, Local Water Alliance, Crag Law Center, Food & Water Watch members in Oregon, the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, the Umatilla, the Yakama, the Nez Perce, and other tribal people who influenced Governor Brown's long-awaited decision.

Hopefully, this is the final nail in the coffin for Nestlé’s bottling plans in Cascade Locks. Wins like these show that dedication and good organizing will result in big wins for communities in Oregon and around the country that face this kind of corporate grab of public water.

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