Cascade Locks proceeds with Nestlé bottling plant research

— “Strategies: Collect the facts both pro and con. Document all facts and sources to ensure fact base authenticity.”

Those activities are listed in the newly approved “Fact Based Information and Communications Program” enacted by the Cascade Locks Joint Work Group on Economic Development in their plan to research the proposed Nestlé water bottling plant now under consideration.

The purpose of the approved action plan is to “ensure that both internal (community) and external audiences receive fact based information on the proposed Nestlé opportunity and to provide fact-based information, objective data and to ensure that the citizens of the community understand the pros and cons of this opportunity.”

At the May 24 meeting of the public body, several steps were laid out to reach the group’s goal to become well-informed decision-makers and to inform the citizens of Cascade Locks through that process.

According to Port Executive Director Chuck Daughtry, topics now slated for further research include an evaluation of city aquifer capacity and well-infrastructure, the need to create a water use curtailment and management master plan, a wastewater impact assessment, the option to charge differential rates for water used in the bottling process, measurements of noise pollution impacts and air quality impacts and traffic studies.

Daughtry also informed the work group of a pending proposal to contract with the Mid-Columbia Economic Development District to conduct due diligence research into 5 “comparable water bottling facilities ... specific to the Northwest.”

Daughtry informed the group that MCEDD would be directed to examine five bottling agreements or resolutions between corporations and government jurisdictions selling spring water. Daughtry’s selected communities included McCloud, Calif.; Evart, Michigan; Cucamonga, Calif.; Madras, Ore. and Chaffee County, Colo. Daughtry also added that it was “meaningless to look at other areas of the country.”

Although spring water is one aspect of the proposed bottling plant, city ground water remains an integral component of Nestlé’s proposed plant — which will produce both “Arrowhead Spring Water” and “Pure Life” (purified) brands.

According to Daughtry, MCEDD will be directed to analyze rates charged for water sales, off-site improvements, storm water concessions, water monitoring and other significant terms.

Daughtry also noted that the community would be responding to a recent letter from the Oregon Water Resources Board on a discrepancy between historically permitted water use and actual use by the city. As the Nestlé proposal includes access to city ground water wells, the result of that negotiation may become pertinent.

OWRB, who is charged with directing water for additional purposes such as fish habitat, referred to “fish persistence” issues in the letter.

Daughtry indicated that the city has OWRB permits for water use beyond what has been its actual historical use. He also presented OWRB questions raised over the city’s documentation of past use.

Water use factors may be reviewed by the OWRB and unused water could potentially be redirected for state use in promoting fish persistence.

Daughtry and Cascade Locks Interim City Administrator Paul Koch will make recommendations from the Port-funded MCEDD analysis to the Joint Work Group.

The group affirmed the need for a quick execution of a hydrologist analysis of the city’s aquifer, since results will determine whether to proceed further. The city’s water management master plan may take up to six months to complete. The group wanted answers on aquifer capacity much sooner.

OSU Economist Bruce Sorte is slated to present an independent analysis of the economic impacts of the proposed water bottling plant at the next meeting on June 28 at 7 p.m.

Daughtry also indicted that a draft memorandum of understanding would need to be developed between the City and Nestlé.

After the listing of upcoming due diligence actions was completed, Mayor Lance Masters clarified that “any memorandum or contract with Nestlé” would be drafted following a review of all the collected data since many terms of that agreement would be affected by the research results.

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