Texas — Nestlé, the Swiss multinational corporation whose CEO has been known to say that clean drinking water is ‘not a human right,’ is at it again. Recently, the company paid only $524 to extract 27,000,000 gallons of California’s drinking water in the middle of one of the worst droughts the state has ever seen, but they’ve also been trying to steal water from residents living near Oxbow Springs in Cascade Locks, Oregon — only to then sell it back to them at inflated prices. This is Nestlé’s business model — privatize water that already belongs to citizens, and then sell it for a profit in plastic bottles that are riddling the oceans and waterways with trash. If you think Cascade Locks citizens are going to take this sitting down — think again.
The mega-company may capitalize on profits by telling their customers that the bottled water they sell is pristine, coming from a natural spring, and this would be true — but they don’t tell anyone that they are stealing it, without any concern for conservation.
If you live in Cascade Locks, the water that comes out of your tap is as pure as anything Arrowhead Springs, or Pure Life sells, both being brands of Nestlé. Your tap water isn’t promoted with television commercials and million dollar advertising budgets, but if you live in this part of Oregon, Nestlé’s stolen water is exactly the same water as what comes out of your faucet. What’s more, the tap water costs less than a penny for a glass, and Nestlé’s water costs anywhere from $3.79 to $4.49 for some 16 ounce bottles.
Despite legal challenges and public outcry, the company has done what it usually sets out to do — win the votes of a few city council members, discreetly take the water, and hope that no one makes a stink about it.
In Cascade Locks, the company has tried to circumvent the permitting process to extract water. Instead of obtaining the water through a gallon-for-gallon trade between the state and Cascade Locks city government, which would then sell the water to Nestlé, the company wants the state to trade its legal right to some of the pure spring water. Citizens are standing up and saying “think again” to Nestlé.
Food & Water Watch, a nonprofit known for battling Nestlé over bottled water, helped citizens pressure the city council to reassess their strategy. Nestlé has been fighting for a water deal in Cascade Locks since 2007. It wants permission to carry away millions of gallons of water annually, driving them through the downtown core in huge, 20,000-pound trucks at a rate of one every four minutes. The water would be bottled and sold right back to Americans — not on Cascade Locks’ watch, though.
The Story of Stuff has created a brief documentary helping to voice the concerns of Cascade Locks citizens, which can be seen here. Additional teasers for the documentary can be found on YouTube, including the following: