Nestlé Waters Chaffee County Project: Interview with resource manager Bruce Lauerman

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After the recent meeting of Chaffee Citizens for Sustainability, Chaffee County Times reporter Kathy Davis got in touch with Nestlé resource manager Bruce Lauerman to discuss the project and the permitting process. From the article:

“Piping the water to Johnson Village keeps truck traffic off the county roads,” Lauerman said. The five-mile pipeline would cost $4 million, he said. Colorado Department of Transportation issued an access permit and indicated all the CDOT concerns were addressed,” Lauerman said.

Regarding the concern about taking water out of Chaffee County and the impact on neighboring wells and water supply, Lauerman said, “The 1041 application reviewers look at the impacts and plan for mitigation … Nestlé is doing what they can for safe retraction and replacement of water.” Nestlé can take only 200 acre-feet annually and that is 10 percent of the average flow of the springs, he said. Local, state and federal authorities heavily regulate the process, according to Lauerman. “Additionally, Colorado water law requires that Nestlé Waters has an augmentation plan to protect local and regional water rights owners,” he said.

Nestlé’s flyer with questions and answers for the project says, “In most cases, state authorities determine how much water we (Nestle) can safely and sustainably withdraw.” Nestlé plans on collection of 200 acre-feet of groundwater annually or in discharge terms, approximately 0.3 cubic feet per second (cfs), Lauerman said. “Our reduction of the flow in the river is not measurable,” he said. Nestlé would use augmentation to replace any depletion. The company would lease with the city of Aurora to release water from Twin Lakes Reservoir to match Nestlé withdrawals.” If Nestlé wants to take more, the company has to go through the process again. “Neighboring well will not be affected by the project,” Lauerman said…

Regarding CCFS plans to request a 60-day delay for approvals of the applications in order to get more information, Lauerman said he came here two years ago and began communication on the project. Information about the project has been communicated on site, at public presentations, information flyers have been distributed and information has been provided for Chaffee County Board of County Commissioners and Planning and Zoning Commissioners. Throughout 2008, 150 people visited the spring water site, he said. Flyers on the Chaffee County Springs Water Project were at both public libraries, Lauerman said. The application was posted at both libraries and the county courthouse. To get more information on Nestlé and the project, Nestlé is setting up a new information Web site at…

Planning commissioners can only make comments on the 1041 application, according to county engineer/planner Don Reimer. The BOCC met March 18 and tabled both applications to April 21 for more information. The April 21 BOCC meeting to continue the discussion on the Nestlé applications starts at 1 p.m. at the American Legion Hall in Buena Vista. The BOCC makes the final decisions on both applications, Reimer said. The county commissioners can continue, approve or deny the applications, he said. “There is a tremendous amount of information available and enough for a sufficient amount of time for the BOCC to make a decision. I think it is not reasonable to delay. “[…]

Another public question was on Nestlé’s alleged bad relations in other communities. Lauerman said that it was “unfair to characterize Nestlé” by looking at two to three communities out of dozens around the country. People need to dig deeper than the rhetoric that was showcased, he said. A list of contacts was given to BOCC, he said. The decision makers can have one-on-one contact, he said. “The company is working hard on giving back to the community. This type of project is a low-impact, sustainable project with significant benefits to Chaffee County. The project preserves open space and protects natural resources,” Lauerman said. According to Lauerman, the benefits include that the company would be required to invest $1 million in wildlife habitat and the restoration of the hatchery is also part of the re-investment. The tax benefits for Chaffee County would be $60,000 to $80,000 a year, according to Lauerman. One-third of the company’s fueling will be done in Chaffee County, Lauerman said. One condition of Nestlé’s permit would be an endowment to Chaffee County, he said.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

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