Chaffee County: Nestlé Waters 1041 permit renewal extended six months to allow for public comment

Location map for Nestlé operations near Nathrop via The Denver Post.

From The Ark Valley Voice (Jan Wondra):

In a decision reflecting the complicated process of renewing a Colorado 1041 Permit, the Board of Chaffee County Commissioners moved to direct staff to extend the Nestlé Water (NWNA) permit and set a hearing six months down the road, due to the need for proper public notification. The six month time frame was requested by Nestlé to prepare for the required public hearing.

The hearing to consider renewal of the permit under which Nestlé has operated since 2009 had been initially scheduled based on the county’s standard 15 day public hearing notice requirements. But the process of renewing a Colorado 1041 permit requires at least a 30 day notice of public hearing, which did not occur in this case. Nestlé is requesting a 10-year extension.

“The extension is the simplest for us and the county,”said Nestlé Western U.S. Director Larry Lawrence, who attended the Oct. 15 meeting. “ We have been in good standing for the past ten years. When we reviewed our 1041 permit we had a couple different methods we could do: modify it [the agreement], or extend for 10 years. The process as I understood it was simply, all we had to do was file a formal written request, which we did on Sept. 16. We’re happy to work on other modifications as allowed.”

[…]

In 2009, after a comprehensive two-year permitting process that included significant stakeholder input, Nestlé was given unanimous approval by the Board of Chaffee County Commissioners to operate and source water from the Ruby Mountain Springs site in Chaffee County. At that time, the county required two permits in order for NWNA to operate in Chaffee County:

  • a Special Land Use Permit (SLUP) to develop a water supply in an area currently zoned as rural or commercial and,
  • a 1041 Permit to identify and mitigate any potential impacts from the proposed project.
  • The last-minute discovery that the scheduling of the Nestlé 1041 permit process was made in error, required formal action. While the BoCC initially discussed continuing the matter to its Nov. 19 regular meeting, “This does require notice to the public and public comment,” said Tom…

    A motion was made by Commissioner Keith Baker to extend the current Nestlé permit for six months, to the time of the public hearing regarding the 1041 permit, which should occur in April, 2020. Commissioner Rusty Granzella seconded and it passed unanimously.

    Nestlé Waters Chaffee County Project: Tanker trucks are moving water out of the Arkansas Valley to Denver

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    From The Chaffee County Times (Kathy Davis):

    Trucking the water to Arrowhead Water’s Denver bottling plant began Aug. 17, [Arrowhead Water natural resource manager Bobbi McClead] said…

    The spring water for Arrowhead is piped from Ruby Mountain Springs near Nathrop to Nestlé Waters’ truck loading facility. The water line for piping the water and the water line crossing on the Arkansas River were completed in late spring. During the installation of the water line crossing, Nestlé installed and paid for a second line for future use by the Town of Buena Vista…

    Nestlé has ongoing projects in Chaffee County. One is the installation of a second well at Ruby Mountain Springs. That well will become the primary well, McClead said.

    More Nestlé Waters Chaffee County Project coverage here and here.

    Nestlé Waters Chaffee County Project update September 15

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    From The Chaffee County Times:

    Bobbi McClead, natural resource manager of Arrowhead Water, a subsidiary of Nestlé Waters, will provide the Rotary Club of Buena Vista with an update on the status of Nestlé Waters construction at Johnson Village on Wednesday, Sept. 15, at 7:30 a.m. at Eddyline Restaurant, 926 South Main St. in Buena Vista. McClead will report on the completion of the storage and loading facilities as well as the commencement of trucking water from the Arkansas Valley to Denver.

    More Nestlé Waters Chaffee County Project coverage here and here.

    Nestlé Waters Chaffee County Project money trail

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    The Colorado Independent’s Scot Kergaard details some of the money trail for Nestlé’s project to move 200 acre-feet or so of water from the Arkansas Basin to the company’s Denver bottled water facility. From the article:

    Early to cash in was Frank McMurry, who back in May 2007 sold Nestle 111 acres for $860,000, even though the land, known as Big Horn Springs, is not being used by Nestle. The company had originally planned to bottle some water from this site but environmental concerns ultimately convinced the company to withdraw this site from their permit. The company has made a verbal promise to place a conservation easement on the property.

    McMurry is a former Chaffee County Commissioner, a member of the committee that OKd the Nestle deal.

    In December 2009, Steve Hansen, owner of Gunsmoke Liquor, sold his store and 1.41 acres in Johnson Village to Nestle for $1,120,000. Nestle tore down the store to build its loading station, where it will fill trucks bound for Denver. Hansen retains the liquor license and is expected to rebuild.

    A day after Hansen sold to Nestle, Harold and Mary Hagen hit the jackpot, selling 11 acres to the company for $2,850,000. The former Hagen property is the site of the springs that Nestle is tapping– the Ruby Mountain Spring and onetime Hagen Fish Hatchery. Since the Hagens were unable to sell Nestle sufficient water rights for its purposes, Nestle had to look elsewhere to augment its source…

    Aurora took up the deal, agreeing to lease the company 65 million gallons of water per year for 10 years, with an optional 10-year renewal. The first year payment is $160,000. The price will rise 5 percent a year. Aurora can cut the deal off in any year that it needs the water for its own purposes.

    More Nestlé Waters Chaffee County Project coverage here and here.

    Nestlé Waters Chaffee County Project gets county notice to proceed to turn on the pumps

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    From the Colorado Independent (Scott Kersgaard):

    This evening, Nestle can turn the spigot and begin filling its fleet of twenty-five 8,000 gallon trucks each day. Many consider a drop in the bucket the 65 million gallons of water Nestle has the rights to bottle and sell every year, at least in terms of the impact on the Arkansas River and its aquifers.

    Others look at it differently. The deal has riled up local environmentalists who cringe at the very idea of siphoning off the precious cargo to pour into environment-straining plastic bottles and burning up gasoline to ship it throughout the West. John Graham, president of one of the local advocacy groups opposed to Nestle, shakes his head at the very idea. He says water as clean as the water Nestle is bottling is available to almost everyone with a tap for a fraction of the price and with none of the environmental impact of an operation that will log more than 6,000 miles a day at least on the road between Johnson Village and Denver…

    Chaffee county’s permitting process produced a document listing 44 conditions Nestle had to meet before it pumped a drop and that it must continue to meet as pumping continues. County Development Director Don Reimer, who today issued the notice to proceed, is tasked with monitoring the operation on an ongoing basis to ensure compliance. Conditions include such things as monitoring the condition of wetlands and groundwater to ensure that the pumping operation does not have a negative effect. It also includes a stipulation that at least half the truck drivers have primary residency in Chaffee County and that Nestle attempt to hire 100 percent of the drivers from Chaffee County.

    More Nestlé Waters Chaffee County Project coverage here.

    Nestlé Waters Chaffee County Project: Will Aurora need a change of use from water court to lease water to Nestlé?

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    From the Colorado Independent (Scot Kersgaard):

    Terry Scanga, general manager of the Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District, a key Aurora water partner and one angered by the deal, told the Colorado Independent it’s not clear Aurora has the right to lease water to Nestle. “Water is decreed for specific uses in specific areas. Aurora’s water rights in the Arkansas Basin were decreed for their use in their municipality,” he said…

    Greg Baker, manager of public relations for Aurora Water, told the Independent that, in fact, the city is leasing only a small percentage of excess capacity to Nestle and that if a situation arises where Aurora needs the water for its own uses, it can temporarily shut down the Nestle operation. Baker said that Aurora has storage capacity of 155,000 acre-feet of water in various reservoirs, so 200 acre-feet may not matter one way or another to the city.

    More Nestlé Waters Chaffee County Project coverage here and here.

    Nestlé Waters North America’s Chaffee County Project to start delivering Arkansas Basin water to Denver bottling plant next month

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    From the Colorado Independent (Scot Kersgaard):

    Not everyone is happy about this. Buena Vista and Salida have birthed a protest movement that has been more noisy than effective. By some estimates, 80 percent of the roughly 17,000 people in Chaffee County are opposed to this diversion of water. Still, when it came time to issue permits, the three-member Board of County Commissioners was unanimous in approving Nestle’s plans. In the end, it was probably a combination of fear and Old-West style property rights values that carried the day for Nestle.

    Commissioner Tim Glenn, the lone Democrat on the board, told a local reporter “Out and out denial of the permit… well you know what would’ve happened… we would have been sued.”

    Commission Chair Frank Holman, on the other hand, thinks the Nestle deal is good for the county. “It is a good thing,” he said. “The county will get 12 to 15 new full-time truck driver jobs out of this. And those jobs are sorely needed,” he said…

    Holman plays down concerns. He said that most of the water Nestle will be draining away would have flowed directly into the Arkansas, so the Aurora augmentation water more than makes up for what will be piped to Johnson Village and poured into trucks. He adds that the deal is now a matter of private property rights. Nestle now owns the land where the water originates, he said, and the company has leased the augmentation water to replace the water its carting away, so Nestle is well within its rights. “Nestle is a good neighbor,” he said. “They are giving us money to help with schools. They are creating a conservation easement on their land. And they are creating river access for fishermen.” Nestle has given $500,000 to two local school districts as an endowment from which the districts can spend the interest or earnings. The company has verbally promised to create a conservation easement on most of the land it has purchased, but no easement has yet been recorded…

    Nestle is paying Aurora $160,000 a year for the water. The amount paid increases 5 percent a year for the first 10 years of the lease. After 10 years, Nestle has the option of requesting a second 10-year term. If Aurora agrees, the price will increase 3 percent a year for the final 10 years. Nestle can break the agreement at any time. Aurora can only break the deal if it can demonstrate that it needs the water for its own uses. The Aurora City Council voted 7 to 4 to approve this deal last year.

    “The thing that gets me most fired up,” said Graham, “is how illogical it is to take our water, pipe it five miles to a truck plant, send 25 trucks of it to Denver every day, and then put it in plastic bottles. Considering that anyone can just turn a tap in their home and get the same water. It is just absurd.”

    More Nestlé Waters North America’s Chaffee County Project coverage here and here.