CL Port approves more Nestlé test wells, hires interim EDM

During a busy meeting on April 17, the Cascade Locks Port Commission approved an agreement with Nestlé Waters North America that allows the corporation to drill more test wells on port property.

The wells, which will be located off the port’s Moody Road property on the west side of the city, will be used to assess the productive capacities of the area’s groundwater. Nestlé is drilling the wells in preparation for a $50 million, 250,000-square-foot water bottling plant the corporation has been trying to build in Cascade Locks for the past six years, which is currently tied up in legal challenges from environmental groups.

This is not the first time Nestlé has drilled test wells in Cascade Locks. In 2010, Nestlé drilled a test well near two city supply wells. Late last year, Nestlé began drilling more test wells after the port approved a two-year access agreement that would allow Nestlé to drill up to three test wells.

Dave Palais, natural resource manager for Nestlé Waters North America, reported in a previous News story that the wells were being examined as a possible option to provide water that would be used in a water exchange needed to get the bottling plant off the ground. Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife currently has an application with the Oregon Water Resources Department to exchange a small portion of its Oxbow Springs water at the Oxbow Hatchery in Cascade Locks for an equal amount of Cascade Locks city well water, while still retaining control of its Oxbow Springs water right. ODFW would then utilize the city water to increase hatchery production during the low-flow period of July to December. In turn, Nestlé would then purchase the Oxbow Springs water from the city.

Palais said that Nestlé had “not determined” how many test wells it would need to drill on the port’s Moody Road property.

“The first step in our exploration on the Port’s property off of Moody Road will be to do some non-invasive geophysical evaluations to see what we can learn about the sub-surface hydrogeology around Moody Spring before doing any drilling,” he explained.

The wells drilled back in December of last year yielded “groundwater that was similar to the groundwater currently found in the city’s wells,” Palais noted.

Interim economic development manager selected

Also during the April 17 meeting, the port commission approved a contract hiring Don Mann as the port’s interim economic development manager. Mann takes over for Gary Rains, who served as the port’s economic development manager for nearly two years before resigning at the end of March.

Mann was most recently at the Port of Newport, where he served as the general manager from January 1996 until coming to the Port of Cascade Locks earlier this month. According to his biography on the Port of Newport’s website, Mann has also managed the ports of Siuslaw and Brookings Harbor and worked for the Oregon Economic Development Department, where he was a regional development office for Hood River County, as well as serving in other roles.

Mann says he’s “excited” to be working on the port’s economic development projects and says he expects many “positive outcomes.”

Mann’s contract runs until the end of the port’s fiscal year on June 30, 2014, and can be renewed on a month-by-month basis.

Port vacancy filling process

Scot Sullenger resigned from the port commission several weeks ago and the remaining commissioners adopted a policy during their April 17 meeting as to how to select a replacement. Those interested in the position are asked to submit a letter of interest to the port detailing: 1.) Why the candidate wants to be on the commission; 2.) What the candidate thinks are the top five priorities for the port; 3.) The candidate’s understanding of the purpose, vision, and mission of the port; and 4.) An explanation of the amount of time the candidate is willing to put into public service.

Letters are due by Friday, May 9. The commission plans to review letters of interest by May 15, hold interview sessions with all applicants by May 23, conduct follow-up interviews by May 30, and make a final decision sometime after.

Those with questions about the process can call the port at 541-374-8619.

General manager selections

The port commission also planned to conduct interviews on April 30 with John Herron and Dana Peck, who are the two finalists for the port’s general manager position. The commission may make a decision on the final candidate immediately after the meeting. Paul Koch, who has been the port’s interim general manager since February 2013, will move on from that position after his contract with the port expires at the end of June.

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