News Feature | May 12, 2016

In An Effort To Expand Bottled Water, Nestle Set Sights On Small Towns

Dominique 'Peak' Johnson

By Peak Johnson

Residents of Eldred Township in Pennsylvania came face to face with township supervisors last year over concerns about the major beverage company.

According to the Pocono Record, residents worried that a potential water harvesting project by Deer Park Natural Spring Water, a division of Nestle Waters North America, would drain residents’ wells dry.

When Nestle rented an information office at the Eldred Township Community Center in April of 2015 to discuss the project with the public, residents were concerned. They wondered how a large daily withdrawal of water would impact their businesses.

“The streams are low now, and what would it be like if they took the water away?” Kay Greenzweig Frable told the Pocono Record. “Kunkletown would be a ghost town.”

Nestle has been active in Kunkletown, PA, for years according to EcoWatch. In the permit application that Nestle filed with the township, it stated the company is proposing to drill two large wells, pump 200,000 gallons of water per day, put it in trucks, and transfer it to an existing bottling facility near Allentown, about 20 miles away.

Kunkletown residents organized against Nestle’s attempts to move in. They formed an informal community group and five residents retained a lawyer. Last December, a group of five filed a lawsuit against the Eldred Township Board of Supervisors alleging the area’s zoning rules were unfair.

Earlier this year, the Eldred Township Planning Commission held a public meeting with Nestle representatives and attorneys in attendance to present on the project and answer questions. During the meeting, residents challenged Nestle and their actions.

In March of this year, the planning commission voted unanimously to recommend that the township zoning board deny Nestle’s application.

EcoWatch reports that in many other parts of the country, there are other communities resisting Nestle. In McCloud, CA, town leaders signed a 50-year agreement in which Nestle would pay “one sixty-fourth of a cent” for a gallon of water and then turn around and sell it for more than $1 per gallon.

According to the International Bottled Water Association, three years ago, Americans drank more than 10 billion gallons of bottled water, generating $12.3 billion in revenue for beverage companies. This amount had doubled the revenue recorded in 2000.

For similar stories visit Water Online’s Water & Wastewater Treatment For The Food And Beverage Industry Solutions Center.