The Greater Arkansas River Nature Association (GARNA) has followed the permit renewal process for Nestle Waters North America (NWNA), a bottled water brand. In 2009, the GARNA Board of Directors expressed concern with an initial NWNA 1041 permit, opposing the project. Many concerns are sustained as the NWNA 1041 permit renewal is considered today. Water only becomes more precious as average temperatures rise in our area and droughts continue. GARNA doesn’t believe that water mining in the Upper Arkansas Valley is responsible use of our natural resources, but it appears that Nestle has followed the water use regulations set forward in the original permit.
If the Chaffee County Board of County Commissioners renews Nestle’s 1041 permit, GARNA wishes the following conditions be enforced by the county:
— Shorten the period required for permit renewal to a three-five year period ensuring that Nestle complies with the conditions of its permit.
— Maintain or increase the current levels of county planning staff (including two new positions currently posted for hiring) and ensure monitoring of the permit is a dedicated task for one of the planning staff.
— As suggested by Collegiate Peaks Chapter of Trout Unlimited (CPC-TU): Require NWNA continues to actively pursue implementation of the Closed Loop Fund, finding solutions to the critical plastic recycling gap. While NWNA is not the sole source of this trash, they can be part of the solution.
— Also suggested by CPC-TU: The permit renewal should consider limiting the annual consumption of spring water to 50% of the amount allowed under the original permit (this is the current level of consumption and approximate level of consumption over the last ten years).
— NWNA must be required to complete the educational component of the original development plan. For many years leading up to permit renewal, it was difficult to find a contact to gain permission to use the site for educational purposes as required by the permit, and in a rare case when permission was granted, staff found the site unusable due to overgrowth of invasive species.
— Require NWNA to establish the Conservation Easement required in the original permit by completing the process no later than two years after the date of the permit renewal.
— All future NWNA monetary contributions to Chaffee County should be directed through the Chaffee County Community Foundation.
NWNA operations are complex and far-reaching, affecting the sustainability of the ecosystem of the specific project site and of the greater Arkansas River area as a whole with grave implications for county, state and national single-use plastic waste generation. We urge the commissioners to review NWNA permit renewal with an unbiased eye and a long-term vision.
Lisa Martin, Layne Kottmeier, Jodie Daley, JW Wilder, Jacy Doumas, Margy Taylor, Celia Adamec, Rob White
GARNA Board of Directors