Nestlé Waters Chaffee County Project: Climate science and the project

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Lee Hart continues her coverage in the Salida Citizen of the Chaffee County Commissioners deliberations over Nestlé Water’s Chaffee County Project 1041 permit.

First up is a long post about the lack of discussion about climate change in the debate over Nestlé’s plans to truck 200 acre-feet or so of water out of basin to Denver for bottling. Read the whole article, here are a couple of excerpts:

Yet here in Chaffee County, conservation and climate change didn’t merit so much as a passing mention as the Board of County Commissioners began deliberations on a multi-decade commercial water harvesting proposal, even as an overwhelming majority of scientific studies anticipate a reduction of total water supply by the mid-21st century is likely to exacerbate competition for over-allocated water resources especially in the fast-growing West. The county’s own consultants, Colorado National Heritage Progam, cautioned commissioners: “In the interest of maintaining the wetland plant communities, any proposed development plan that impacts water resources should take into consideration global climate change.” Yesterday, CNHP ecologist Delia Malone, writing as a private citizen, spoke out on what she called the commissioners’ “short-sightedness” in dismissing climate change from deliberations on the water harvesting project proposed by Nestle Waters North America. Without a trace of ambiguity, a 2008 report by Western Water Assessment asserts, “Climate change will affect Colorado’s use and distribution of water.” The report notes that “changes in long-term precipitation and soil moisture can affect groundwater recharge rates; coupled with demand issues this may mean greater pressure on groundwater resources.”[…]

As inextricably as hyrdrogen is linked to oxygen at water’s most basic level, so too it seems the scientific community believes climate change must be factored into any decision-making that impacts natural resources. “Basically anybody in 2009 who is thinking about water resources, water planning, water supply . . . if they’re not thinking about climate change, they’re missing the mark,” explained scientist John Katzenberger, executive director of the Aspen Global Change Institute. Katzenberger was also a contributor to a 2008 report published by the National Resources Defense Council and the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization entitled, “Hotter and Drier, The West’s Changed Climate.”

Hart and the Salida Citizen are running a letter sent to the Chaffee County Commissioners from Ecologist Delia Malone. From the article:

Regardless of all the good, hard data out there, Malone lamented the commissioners dismissing the role of climate change in their deliberations about Nestle. Indeed, countless scientific books and research papers from all corners of the globe have written about the certainty of impending water shortages due to climate change that is already measurable…“Accessible water is rare and for Chaffee County to just give it away is really short-sighted,” Malone said. “You can’t get it back and when you really need it, it will be too late.”

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

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