Courageous Native American Woman Goes on 5-Day Fast to Protest Nestlé’s Water Bottling Proposal

Starting last Monday, August 17th, Anna Mae Leonard started a grueling 5 day

Anna Mae Leonard's 5-day fast ends today, Aug. 21st. She is protesting Cascade Locks plan to sell Oxbow Spring water to Nestlé.

Anna Mae Leonard’s 5-day fast ends today, Aug. 21st. She is protesting Cascade Locks plan to sell Oxbow Spring water to Nestlé.

fast without water or food in front of Cascade Locks City Hall to protest the city’s plan to sell public water to Nestlé for a proposed water bottling facility. Leonard is a Cascade Locks resident and her tribal ancestors have been fishing on the Columbia for hundreds of years. She represents the Unchee Wana Fisher People Against Nestlé: a group of tribal fishing people who strongly oppose Nestlé’s intent to bottle Oxbow Spring water – the spring is a culturally significant and sacred site to tribal members in the Columbia River Gorge. Leonard along with hundreds of Native Americans in the Gorge think the water rights swap is a violation of the 1855 Treaty.

On Wednesday this week dozens of Native American fisher people and Gorge residents joined Leonard in an evening of solidarity. Local opposition to Nestlé’s water grab is mounting in the face of drought conditions, rampant wildfires, and a clear need to protect public water for people and wildlife, not to sell off to private corporations who intend to make this precious resource into a commodity. Leonard has told the press that she and many tribal members are fed up with the lack of action from top leaders in the state like Governor Brown and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Leonard’s powerful fasting protest ends today, but throughout the week she has been visited by supporters from the Gorge and has received positive feedback from the locals and tourists passing her by on Wa Na Pa Avenue with thumbs ups, waves, and affirmative honking of car horns.  Leonard has expressed surprise (as heard on KPAM’s Mark and Dave Show August 20, 14 minute mark) at all the support she has been receiving.

After learning about the water bottling proposal only a few months ago she started asking around to see if other native fisher people had heard about the proposal and if they were doing anything to stop it. She found out that most had no idea Nestle intended to bottled Oxbow Springs and those that did know thought there was nothing they could do about it. One thing they all had in common was strong opposition to the city of Cascade Locks obtaining rights to Oxbow Spring water so they can sell it off to Nestlé.

Ever since Leonard found out that Warm Springs tribal leadership had submitted a letter to Governor Brown expressing opposition to the state’s role in making Oxbow Springs water available to Nestlé she’s been using it as a rallying tool. She has gathered hundreds of signatures from native fisher people calling on the governor and state agencies to stop the water rights transfer deal that would let Nestle open up shop in the Gorge. To ramp up support of her efforts she decided to perform a 5-day spiritual fast in full view of Cascade Locks city leaders, to both pressure them to do the right thing and to raise awareness to her people and the world that sacred water resources should not be for sale.

Solidarity action on Wednesday the 19th. Here Anna Mae stands with fellow fisher people demanding a stop to Nestlé in the Gorge.

Solidarity action on Wednesday the 19th. Here Anna Mae stands with fellow fisher people demanding a stop to Nestlé in the Gorge.

Leonard told the Oregonian reporter: “I want the [Cascade Locks city] council to think about what a world would be like without water…I want them to look at me suffer and think about how the fish will suffer without that cold spring water.” Lets honor her suffering by keeping up the fight to protect the Gorge and this sacred water from Nestlé.

If you are a Cascade Locks resident you can call your city council here: 541-374-8484. If you want to express your support of city council member Deana Busdieker’s opposition to Nestlé please email her.

To contact the Governor to express your concern about her lack of action to protect this public water from Nestlé, please call or email her at 503-378-4582 or on her share your opinion page.
You can keep close track of this issue by joining the Keep Nestle Out of the Gorge Facebook group.

You can check out all the press Anna Mae Leonard’s protest has received by clicking on our “In The Press” tab.

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Water Awareness Month, eh?

Have you heard? Governor Kate Brown has announced July 2015 is

Will Governor Brown do her part to protect this spring water from Nestlé?

Will Governor Brown do her part to protect this spring water from Nestlé?

“Water Awareness Month.” She even issued a press release about it. According to a July 6 Statesman Journal article, “Oregon Gov. Kate Brown will order all state agencies to review their water usage and implement conservation plans in the face of the state’s growing drought.” She also urges individuals to do what they can to conserve this precious resource.

It is hard to take this proclamation too seriously, though, and here’s why:

In letter responding to nine Oregon State Legislators who expressed concerns over Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife’s (ODFW) role in Nestlé’s water bottling proposal in Oregon, Gov. Brown makes clear that she doesn’t think the Governor’s office has any role to play in the matter. Strange, since ODFW’s initial consideration of the proposal six years ago was at the direction of Governor Kulongoski. Clearly there’s a role for the governor to play in preventing a state agency tasked with protecting fish and wildlife resources from making public water available to a multi-national water bottling company.

Even ODFW is waiting on leadership from Governor Kate Brown; according to a May 13 article in the Oregonian, “In pursuing the deal, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife officials have said they are following the orders of former Gov. Ted Kulongoski and will continue to do so in the absence of further direction from the state’s leadership.”
Call the deal a water exchange or call it a water rights swap; no matter how you slice it Governor Brown’s state agency, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife – if Brown allows it to proceed – would set a dangerous precedent by voluntarily initiating a complicated process to make public water available to Nestlé. Currently not one of the 33 water bottlers in the state of Oregon procures that water through a public state agency; why should the State allow Nestlé to do so?

The deal has never made sense for Oregon, but now that Cascade Locks has new economic development options, Hood River County is seeking drought emergency status, and public concern is mounting both in the community and across the state, it’s clearer than ever that Nestlé is a raw deal for Oregonians. Nestlé’s water bottling plant has no place in Oregon and state agencies should play no role in opening up the door to a company that continues to pump millions of gallons of water out of California during a historic drought. And, Nestlé’s CEO publicly stated he would pump even more water out of California right now if he could.

Governor Brown understands climate change; it’s one of her main reasons for proclaiming July Water Awareness Month. She knows water scarcity is in our future. No matter how you look at this, the deal will lead to 118 million gallons of water per year being removed from a watershed in a drought-stricken county. The math is simple: if Governor Brown is serious about state agencies conserving water the only thing to do is tell ODFW to stop any and all water transfer applications pertaining to Nestlé’s water bottling proposal.

If you agree that Nestlé is a raw deal for Oregon contact the governor today:

Here is Governor Brown’s number: 503-378-4582, you can send her a message here:, or best yet a letter:

Office of the Governor
160 State Capitol
900 Court Street
Salem, OR 97301-4047


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Broad Coalition Delivers Thousands of Public Comments on Controversial Proposal to Open the Gorge to Nestlé

On Thursday, May 14th, weeks after Governor Kate Brown announced droughts in seven counties, Oregon elected officials, labor representatives, youth and environmental advocates on Thursday delivered of thousands of public comments at the State Capitol from Oregonians urging the Oregon Water Resources Department and Governor Kate Brown to reject a City of Cascade Locks water swap proposal with the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife in light of concerns that such a deal will open the door for Nestlé to bottle public water in the Gorge.

“Seven Oregon counties face drought emergencies, climate change is bearing down on us and wealthy investors are looking to divert water from the Northwest to California,” said a staffer in a state provided on behalf of Oregon Representative Ann Lininger. “This is not the time to help a private multinational corporation extract and sell our precious clean water. This is the time to develop a plan for how Oregon will meet the water needs of our people, fish, and environment in a future shaped by climate change.”

The Oregon Water Resources Department is set to consider two water transfer applications filed by the City of Cascade Locks and the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife (ODFW) to facilitate a water rights swap – making ODFW spring water currently used for a hatchery available for the City to sell to Nestlé for water bottling. Residents of Cascade Locks who attended the public comment delivery, including City Councilor Deanna Busdieker, are concerned that Nestlé is not the right fit for their city.

“Nestlé’s main concern is about its profit margin whereas for our town, it’s about how we want our community to grow,” said Councilor Busdieker. “Residents want local, sustainable, and socially responsible long-term economic development. The acceptability of selling public resources for private profit belongs in the past, and the only way to move forward is to discover new industries to develop. Nestlé does not seem like a good fit or an appropriate industry for us. We can do better.”

A public comment period on the proposal closed last Thursday, May 14. Environmental, youth and labor groups argued that the impacts of a water swap would go beyond Cascade Locks.

“The supposed job merits of Nestlé’s water bottling proposal are neither based on facts, nor stand up to scrutiny,” said Jeff Klatke, President of Oregon AFSCME, which represents workers at over 170 governmental and non-governmental jurisdictions.  “Thirty of our jurisdictions include a public water department, so we know something about good stewardship of water resources. The state must not be allowed to circumvent the public interest review of a water privatization permit of this magnitude. Oregon AFSCME strongly encourages Governor Brown and the State to consider the public’s comments carefully weigh the public resource impacts inherent in this permitting decision.”

The public comment delivery was accompanied by water-themed origami works by the youth-led H2Origami Project, which combines natural materials with the ancient art form to create works that bring attention to issues that affect the health of our waterways.

“The importance of protecting water as a basic human right from privatization and pollution extends far beyond our needs today, and to the needs of many generations of living beings to come,” said by Jacob von Borth of H2Origami Project. “Considering the immediate and long-term environmental and social impact a water bottling plant would have on Oregon, the State should prohibit Nestlé from bottling the water of Oxbow Springs.”

While the public comments delivered to the Capitol today are officially directed to the State Water Resources Department, the residents also delivered a copy of each comment to Governor Kate Brown.

“The thousands of Oregonians opposed to this proposal see Nestlé’s abuses in California and elsewhere and don’t want state agencies to open Oregon up to a multinational corporation with Nestlé’s track record,” said Julia DeGraw, senior northwest organizer for Food & Water Watch. “ODFW has shown Oregon residents we can’t trust it to protect our water from Nestlé. That’s why we’re also delivering these thousands of comments to Governor Kate Brown. We need leadership from the top.”

Also on the 14th The Keep Nestle Out of the Gorge coalition submitted its official public comments on both Cascade Locks’ and ODFW’s water rights transfer applications prepared by Crag Law Center.

Groups delivered some 30,000 comments, petitions and letter to Governor Kate Browns office on Thursday, May 14th as well. You should continue to reach out to her office asking her to protect Oregon’s water. You can call her office at this number: 503-378-4582.

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Representative Nosse Hosts Town Hall For Nestlé Public Comment Period

If you live in the SE Portland area this is another great way you can voice your concern about the Nestle water bottling proposal for Oregon.

Representative Nosse is hosting a Town Hall to give citizens an easy way to participate in the pubic comment period regarding the Nestle water bottling proposal.

Representative Nosse is hosting a Town Hall to give citizens an easy way to participate in the public comment period regarding the Nestle water bottling proposal.

Many constituents have contacted Rep. Nosse’s office regarding the proposed Nestle Bottled Water Plant in Cascade Locks, expressing a number of concerns about it. Rep. Nosse understands the importance of protecting our public water, which is one of our most valued resources. At the request of many constituents he has written a letter to the ODFW Director expressing the many concerns of people in his district, but he knows that folks in SE Portland have many additional questions & concerns.

The Oregon Water Resources Department has regulatory authority over water rights transfers and is the state agency that will approve or deny these applications. OWRD’s public comment period on the project extends through May 14th, and Rep. Nosse understands that many busy working families don’t have time to find out how to submit comment to state agencies.

To make things convenient for his constituents, Rep. Nosse is holding an event on Saturday. Here are the event details:

When: Saturday, May 9th
Time: 11am-1pm
Where: SEIU Local 49 (3536 SE 26th Ave, Portland, OR 97202)

Parking will be available, but we encourage using public transportation if at all possible. Information on the proposed plant will be available, as well as laptop stations and paper forms so people can easily & conveniently make their voice heard. The Nosse office & additional volunteers will also be available to take down folks’ input in greater detail for OWRD.

Protecting Oregon’s natural resources is a priority for Rep. Nosse, and he is always happy to provide resources for his constituents and to make having your voice heard in Salem as easy as possible.

If you have any additional questions please don’t hesitate to contact the Nosse office at: or (503) 453-0868.

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Your Public Comments are Needed!

The OWRD public comment period is open through May 14th!

Don't let the Oregon Water Resources Department approve this spring water for Nestlé water bottling.

Don’t let the Oregon Water Resources Department approve this spring water for Nestlé water bottling.

Even though the OWRD has stated that it “cannot consider whether the bottling of water should be prohibited“. It must recognize that facilitating the transfer of publicly held water rights to a private entity is not wise long-term water management. Especially considering that now seven

counties in Oregon have declared a drought emergency.

You can submit your comments here.

Allowing this state agency to open the doors to a Nestle bottling plant not only sets a bad precedent, but this decision would lead to a wasteful an potentially unsustainable use of a public resource.

We recommend using some of the following language in your comment:

If OWRD approves the transfer applications, it risks creating a future water supply shortfall, putting the City of Cascade Locks, and potentially the State of Oregon, at the mercy of a multi-national corporation with a bad track record in the US and abroad.

It is clear that the only reason ODFW has submitted this new water transfer application is because it intends to transfer this water so that it can be sold to Nestlé. Allowing this state agency to open the doors to a Nestlé bottling plant not only sets a bad precedent, but this decision would lead to a wasteful and potentially unsustainable use of a public resource.

Oregon’s water is a public resource that should be managed for the benefit of Oregonians. I urge OWRD to deny these applications because of the potentially disastrous results it will have upon the community and the sustainability of Oregon’s spring water.

Thank you for taking action!


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Major Momentum on The Keep Nestlé Out of the Gorge Campaign!

It’s been a busy time on the campaign to Keep Nestlé Out of the Gorge!

From last Thursday's early morning action on the Hawthorne Bridge. 150 people held signs and chanted for Governor Kate Brown to protect Oregon's water.

From last Thursday’s early morning action on the Hawthorne Bridge. 150 people held signs and chanted for Governor Kate Brown to protect Oregon’s water.

In the weeks following the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife (ODFW) and the City of Cascade Locks announced plans to seek a water rights transfer, instead of an exchange, in order to grant Nestle access to our public water supply. The transfer process is quicker and, alarmingly, does not require a formal public interest review. This attempt by a state agency to intentionally circumvent an outraged public is appalling.

Please take a moment to send Governor Brown a message, requesting that she intervene and stop the transfer of public water rights to Nestle. You can also give her a call at (503) 378-4582.

On April 16 we held a massive rally on the Hawthorne Bridge during morning rush hour in response to this latest proposal. About 150 protesters demonstrated their opposition to Nestle’s plan to bottle water from the Columbia River Gorge. In case you missed it, you can check out coverage of the event on KGW, KATU, KOIN, and The Oregonian.

We’re not the only ones upset by the new water rights transfer proposal. Oregon State Representative Ann Lininger and seven members of the Oregon State Legislature sent a letter to Governor Brown and the ODFW Director Melcher expressing deep concerns about the proposal’s elimination of the public interest review requirement and about the state’s role in Nestlé’s water bottling deal. They argue that this deal would “[establish] a dangerous precedent regarding use of Oregon’s water.” This letter is proof that our hard work is paying off!

If you would like to thank Representatives Lininger, Lew Frederick, Barbara Smith Warner, Ken Helm, Phil Barnhart, Alissa Keny-Guyer, Peter Buckley, Nancy Nathanson, and Senator Michael Dembrow for signing the letter to Governor Brown, you can find their contact information on the Oregon State Legislature webpage.

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Urgent Action Needed!

According to this article from the Oregonian, the Oregon Deptartment of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) submitted an application on Friday to transfer part of its water right to Cascade Locks, opening the door for Nestlé’s proposed bottling plant. It wants the Water Resources Department (WRD) to put two other transfer applications on hold in order to expedite the process.

We need you to act right now to protect our water.

Not only does this new application result in the permanent water rights transfer of pristine Oxbow Spring water, but it also excludes a public interest review.
No Nestle People
Since it is clear we cannot count on ODFW to do what’s right for Oregon we need real leadership from Governor Brown. Click here to act now and send Governor Brown your objections;

Call Governor Brown’s public comment line: (503) 378-4582.

Leave a message, or if you talk to someone tell them, “I want the Governor stop her state agency, ODFW, from giving away public water for a Nestlé bottling plant.”

And send your letter to the editors at the Oregonian: 150 words or less to, Include your name and phone number.

Remember, we have protected our public water resources from Nestlé for five years now, thanks to your actions – we can continue to win if we keep up the pressure on our new governor.

Stay posted! A 30 day comment period will officially start as soon as this Thursday if the Water Resources Department agrees to put the two other transfer applications on hold. We will need everyone who cares about this issue to participate in that public comment period making it clear to both our governor and our state agencies that a Nestlé water bottling plant is wrong for the Gorge and wrong for Oregon.


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