PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Oregonians took to the streets of Portland to protest the transfer of state spring water to permanently supply a proposed Nestle water-bottling plant in the Columbia River Gorge.
The protest began at 7 a.m. at the intersection of the Eastbank Esplanade and the Hawthorne Bridge and continued to the city’s bridges.
Last week, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife applied for a water rights cross-transfer to provide the City of Cascade Locks with water from Oxbow Springs.
The application could pave the way for Nestle Corporation to open a water bottling plant in the Gorge. Protesters want to keep the big corporations out of the Gorge and and away from state owned water.
Governor Kate Brown said in a statement that “The City of Cascade Locks, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Oregon Water Resources Department are all following a deliberate process to evaluate the proposed water bottling plant. As part of that process, it’s important for the public to let their voices be heard and take part in the public comment period. Only by engaging with OWRD can Oregonians ensure their concerns are being taken into account. The public can take part by visiting the OWRD website at www.oregon.gov/owrd.”
Alex P. Brown, the Executive Director of Bark, an organization geared towards defending and restoring Mt. Hood, says that “Nestle would be setting a precedent in the State of Oregon to give away existing public water resources to support a bottling water facility in the state.”
Protesters and Bark members say that it would have negative affects on the environment, because of the billions of plastic bottles that would be produced every year out of the Gorge. As well, there are the affects of the 200 truck trips that would be driving down main street in Cascade Locks every day.
Brown says the even larger issue with Nestle bottling Oregon water is the drought.
“We currently have five counties in the State of Oregon under a state of emergency for the upcoming drought and our neighbor California is in a state of emergency with major water restrictions being placed,” Brown says.
Others say that it would be positive economic development for the city of Cascade Locks.
KOIN 6 News will be following the story.