Hood River County, OR – The Local Water Alliance announced today that over 100 local businesses and farms have officially endorsed the Water Protection Measure 14-55, which would prohibit bottled water operations in Hood River County.
The long list of businesses, farms and farmers highlights the importance of protecting Hood River County’s water supply from water bottling efforts by Nestlé and other water bottlers. A Nestlé-backed political action committee calling itself “Coalition for a Strong Gorge Economy” recently filed with State Elections, listing a Salem political lobbyist as its main group contact.
Measure 14-55 backers say their impressive list of local farm and business endorsers highlights that a broad spectrum of voters understands that trucking out hundreds of millions of gallons of water a year would set a precedent that would put the County’s economy at risk.
“Our orchards and farms will not survive without a reliable water supply,” says ballot measure 14-55 Chief Petitioner Moria Reynolds of Casa Verde Farms. “Last year’s irrigation water restriction was a wake up call to local farmers that water is a valuable resource here in Oregon, and with future climate predictions, this is not the time to start selling our water for cheap.”
“Business after business that we talked to recognized that we cannot set the precedent of allowing Nestlé or any other industrial-scale water bottler into our County. This is not just about Nestlé because if we let Nestlé in, then many other water bottlers will soon follow their lead,” says Aurora del Val, who lives in Cascade Locks and is the Campaign Director for the Local Water Alliance.
Mike Kitts, who owns the construction company Mike Kitts Homes and also Mike’s Ice Cream in Hood River, directly addressed Nestlé’s claim that a bottled water plant would provide local jobs. “Bottled water plants are highly automated and only provide a small number of low-paying jobs while threatening our water supply that is critical for thousands of existing jobs.”