CASCADE LOCKS, Ore. (KOIN) — The voters in Hood River County opposed a Nestle water-bottling facility, but in Cascade Locks — the city where the plant would be built — voters OK’d the initiative by almost a 60-40 margin.
That’s why the Cascade Locks City Council directed the city administrator to press on with the Nestle proposal despite the vote on May 17.
“It could be a challenge to the ballot measure,” City Administrator Gordon Zimmerman told KOIN 6 News. “I don’t know until I talk to an attorney.”
Zimmerman said it’s an honest effort to follow the will of the people who live where the Nestle facility would be built.
Cascade Locks, with an unemployment rate over 18%, has more sympathy for the project which would eventually generate more tax revenue and add 50 jobs to a tourist-dependent town.
Annually, 77 inches of rain falls in Cascade Locks — more than twice Portland’s average. Zimmerman said the amount of water Nestle wants to bottle from nearby Oxbow Spring is a drop in the proverbial bucket.
“The amount of water we’re talking about — 118 million gallons — flows by the city of Cascade Locks in the Columbia river every 90 seconds,” he said. “On an annual basis Nestle is only asking for a minute-and-a-half of Columbia River water.”
Zimmerman’s mission now is to keep the Nestle initiative alive.