Nestlé Waters Chaffee County Project: County drawing up stipulations

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From The Mountain Mail (Paul Goetz):

After about 3½ hours of discussion among themselves, Chaffee County Commissioners Wednesday directed Barbara Green, county 1041 attorney, and other experts to draft stipulations to satisfy county issues. The commissioners’ meeting chamber was filled to capacity with people wanting to hear the discussion…

To allow time for drafting stipulations, commissioners set a tentative date for continued deliberation at 9 a.m. Aug. 5 if the commissioners receive the documents in time. Bruce Lauerman, Nestlé natural resources manager, asked for a late-July date to avoid more project delay. Green asked for a mid-August date to allow ample time for her to “wordsmith” the conditions. After the meeting, Lauerman told The Mail he appreciates the commissioners’ “thoughtful” deliberation.

Among sticking points is specific treatment of water rights and drought scenarios that might injure agriculture or deplete storage. Commissioner Tim Glenn said he “struggled” with the efficient use of water and water rights. He said he is worried about a drought scenario such as one included in earlier public testimony by district manager Terry Scanga of the Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District. Glenn said there is potential for water storage depletion during a prolonged drought.

Economic loss is another sticking point. Glenn said the Nestlé Ice Mountain Bottling Plant in Michigan has an annual payroll of $16 million. In Chaffee County, Ruby Mountain spring has enough water to run a bottling plant in Denver, but Nestlé has no plans to build a bottling plant in Chaffee County…

Other stipulations to 1041 standards include:

• A time line for wetland restoration former hatchery area and a guarantee of continued well monitoring at the Big Horn Spring site.

• A limit on Nestlé truck traffic on Trout Creek Pass during holidays and peak hours.

• Defining possible uses by the county for mitigation fund money agreed to by Nestlé.

• Improved Arkansas River fishing access at Ruby Mountain spring.

More coverage from the Salida Citizen (Lee Hart):

In a meeting that seemed focused more on how, rather than if, to approve Nestle’s proposal, the three-man board of commissioners spent the bulk of their time today debating proposed conditions of approval for the project that seeks to extract 65 million gallons of spring water from Chaffee County for transport to Denver where it will be bottled and sold under Nestle’s Arrowhead water brand. In the end, the hearing was continued to Aug. 5 to give staff time to draft legally enforceable conditions addressing key concerns commissioners have with the proposal. The draft proposed conditions are scheduled to be presented to the Commissioners on Aug. 3 for consideration at a public hearing two days later. The week of July 27, staff will provide an update on its progress and if it needs more time, the commissioners’ meeting may be pushed back to Aug. 19, the date staff originally proposed but which was objected to by Nestle project manager Bruce Lauerman.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

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