Nestlé Waters Chaffee County Project: Not that big a deal?

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Ed Quillen weighs in on Nestlé Waters North America’s plans for the Hagen Spring, in his column in today’s Denver Post. He writes:

It’s pretty hard to portray Nestle as a benevolent force — do you recall its efforts to promote its baby formula in the Third World? — so I won’t even try. Nor is it easy to defend bottled water in general. I buy Hershey’s chocolate and drink tap water from an expensive but useful CamelBak “portable personal hydration system” that doesn’t spill when I accidentally tip it while reaching for the telephone. Those are personal decisions, although if everyone made the same ones, there wouldn’t be a Nestle controversy here or anywhere else. But bottled water is a legitimate business, whether I like it or not. Nestle plans to take about 200 acre-feet a year (about 125 gallons a minute) from the Arkansas River’s flow. That’s not enough to notice for floating or fishing purposes or any other perceptible environmental effect.

In Colorado water jargon, Nestle is a “consumptive use” from a “junior right.” Nestle will have to make that up so that downstream users with senior water rights are not injured — a process called augmentation…

…it now appears that Nestle is working on a deal with the city of Aurora, which also seems to have acquired more water than it needs, now that home construction is a dormant industry. Somehow, it doesn’t seem like “what’s best for Chaffee County” for Nestle to be cutting checks to Aurora to replace water it’s taking out of Chaffee County. But then again, every tanker truck of water that leaves is that much less for a developer here. And maybe that’s what is best for Chaffee County.

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