Oregon to Nestle: Stop Sucking the US Dry

Courtney Munson, Writer

When most people think of the negative impacts of the water bottling industry, they associate it with an image of billions of plastic bottles filling up landfills. But, that is only the half of it. What about the water that used to occupy those empty bottles?

Ground-water pumping is a largely unspoken issue in America and globally, and according to the news source Common Dream, a town in Oregon won a small victory over an industry that is sucking America dry, literally. I think it’s time someone stood up to these companies who over-drain our resources, and tell citizens that  it is good for us.

“This is really a resounding victory for everyone who cares about protecting not only our water supply, but water supplies around the world,” said Aurora del Val with Local Water Alliance.

Much in the style of large corporations in America, beverage companies have been depleting our resource, commodifying it, and selling it to us as “bigger and better.” Companies that bottle water have somehow convinced us the water they pump from the ground is better than the water municipalities pump from the ground, “despite the fact that almost all US tap water is better regulated and monitored than bottled,” according to a study done by the nonprofit Mother Jones.

Aren’t businesses supposed to maximize efficiency? What is efficient about adding more cost and stages of production to an already great product? I don’t know about you, but what is greater than the substance that composes 73 percent of us?

Under the label of Arrowhead, Nestle proposed to pump 100 million gallons of groundwater per year out of the Oxbow Springs, just outside Cascade Locks, Oregon.

A report by the USGS outlined the effects that over pumping groundwater can have, including drying up wells, which generates more cost for citizens; reduction of water quality, because sea water can leach into the water supply when the barrier is weakened; land subsidence, which is the compression of soil which is lacking water causing sinkholes; and reduction of water supply in lakes and streams, which can affect wildlife and agriculture. In return for the untold damage that could be done to the environment near Cascade Locks, Nestle offered 50 jobs at the new pumping plant to its citizens.

The voters gave a loud “Heck No!” to their pathetic offer with a 69 percent to 31 percent passing of a ban on a seven year bidding campaign for the ability to establish a plant at Oxbow Springs.

In my opinion this is voters sending a message about how they feel towards  the undermining of our freshwater resources. Freshwater resources have to maintain a delicate balance of withdrawal and replenishment, and the water bottling industry seems to think that it is somehow above that. The citizens of Cascade Lock have reminded them they are not.

The beverage companies have done their damage and the people are not taking it anymore. Leave it to a town in Oregon to do the most natural thing possible, and get their water from the ground. Kudos to you Cascade Lock!