Nestlé Waters Chaffee County Project: More county commissioner’s hearings

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Here’s a recap of this week’s meeting of the Chaffee County Board of Commissioners regarding Nestlé Waters North America’s Chaffee County Project, from Joe Stone writing for The Mountain Mail):

The fifth marathon hearing regarding permit requests from Nestlé Waters recessed at 11 p.m. Tuesday with participants setting 1 p.m. May 21 for continuation in a location to be determined…

After future hearings are officially closed, commissioners will have 60 days to reach a decision regarding issuance of the Nestlé permits…

Consultants for Nestlé and Chaffee County attended the meeting and addressed eight areas of concern regarding the special land use and 1041 permit applications: economic impacts, groundwater impacts, water rights, wetland impacts, traffic concerns, air quality impacts, visual impacts and planning document consistencies. Analysis provided Tuesday by THK Associates of Aurora clarified economic impacts of the project, indicating several benefits to the county, including $2.3 million in total wages for project labor and $4.8 million for materials. The only items contracted outside the county would be specialized work, such as directional drilling to route a pipeline under the Arkansas River. It would add $2.4 million in assessed property value, generating more than $18,000 in property taxes for 2010 and more than $500,000 during the next 30 years. THK analysis projected annual tax payments of more than $8,000 for Chaffee County Fire Protection District, $5,000 for Northern Chaffee County Library District, $2,500 for Salida Hospital District and about $1,000 for Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District. In addition to a $500,000 community endowment, Nestlé committed to an annual giving program and reimbursement of extraordinary county expenditures not covered by tax payments.

Representing Nestlé, Steve Sims, former senior water counsel for the Colorado Attorney General’s Office, clarified questions associated with Nestlé’ proposed lease of Aurora water for augmentation. Sims stressed the Aurora water would come from the Colorado River Basin and would be augmented upstream from the Nestlé project site. A plan proposed by Salida and Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District would have relied upon augmenting water downstream from the site, creating in-stream flow issues and other concerns. Sims reported, “Aurora’s water portfolio includes 52,000 acre-feet and will increase to 100,000 acre-feet in 2010 when their Prairie Waters project comes online.” Given the small percentage of Aurora water leased by Nestlé, Sims said drought-year worries are unfounded and emphasized the plan would be strictly controlled by Colorado Water Court. Sims noted Chaffee County agricultural rights are senior to the Aurora rights and could not be affected by the augmentation plan.

Martina Wilkinson explained the Nestlé traffic study in detail indicating uphill truck traffic isn’t associated with wrecks between Johnson Village and Trout Creek Pass summit. In fact, she said, wildlife and excessive downhill speed create most crashes in the corridor.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

2 thoughts on “Nestlé Waters Chaffee County Project: More county commissioner’s hearings

  1. My name is Christina and I am in a contemporary issues class. Lately we have been discussing the Nestle issue in Chaffe County. I have harsh feelings about this subject. Nestle could bring profit to the county,but the water in our area is used for crops, which is a huge source of income in the area. Nestle is taking water from our area, they say that they will replace it,but that will be hard. Under Colorado law they MUST replace the water, but where are they going to get the water to replace it? I have heard that they will be replacing the water in the Arkansas River with water from the Twin Lakes, but if they are taking water from the Twin Lakes they will have to replace that too. It matters not to Nestle whether they hurt our community or not, they only care about whether they make more money. If this project is allowed through then the people of Chaffe County will have to buy their water back in 10 years just to water their gardens. I don’t want to have that happen. If any one has any suggestions as to how I can argue my point against seniors (I’m only a sophomore!) then I would really like hearing from you.

    1. Christina,

      The water from Twin Lakes is brought over from the west slope and can therefore be used to extinction under Colorado water law (it does not have to be replaced).

      I think you’re being a little overly pessimistic saying that the, “People of Chaffee County will have to buy their water back in 10 years.” Nestle’s 200 acre-feet or so is not much water.

      Have some faith in Colorado’s water law and administration. They really work pretty well and I predict that the Nestle operation will stay small.

      John Orr

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