Have you heard? Governor Kate Brown has announced July 2015 is
“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: http://www.oregon.gov/gov/Pages/share-your-opinion.aspx, or best yet a letter:
Office of the Governor
160 State Capitol
900 Court Street
Salem, OR 97301-4047