Report from March 28, 2018 Spring Township Water Authority Board Meeting

From Kelli Hoover – Nittany Valley Environmental Coalition President

The Terms of Agreement that was passed around the room at the STWA meeting last night is NOT the Terms list the STWA voted on. It is an alternative vision written by a member of the NVEC as an ideal agreement that would include profit sharing with the public.

The Terms list APPROVED by the Spring Township Water Authority Board on February 28, 2018 as a non-binding agreement between STWA and Nestle is attached below.

As you can see, the approved Term Sheet gives the power to Nestle to breach the agreement with limited ability of STWA to terminate the agreement if that occurs.

It also  has no termination date, and it states that Nestle can take water up to the permit for Well-2 (PW-2, the Cerro well), which is permitted at 499,000 gallons/day, which is also the maximum allowed pumping rate for all wells combined (well 1 and well 2), according to the SRBC and DEP permits.

STWA Board Chairman Doug Weikel indicated last night that the STWA board is interested in the proposed Nestle contract because STWA needs the money to maintain the water system and fix leaks that have plagued them for many years.

We know from review of STWA minutes, that the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has been commenting on STWA water loss rates from leaks since at least 2006.

STWA customers should ask Weikel and the other STWA board members:

1) How much would STWA need to raise rates to keep the water supply as a public resource for the residents and not sell water to Nestle? Would the rate be $5/1000 gallons? What would it take to fix leaks and maintain a healthy water supply without Nestle?

2) Will you hold a public hearing where you lay out transparently and clearly exactly what STWA is proposing as the agreement with Nestle?

Doug Weikel complained last night about a lot of misinformation and misrepresentation of the facts by opponents.

If STWA doesn’t tell the public what the facts are, there will be misinformation.

So post the well testing data for PW-2 online and make it free to the public and tell us the plan in detail.

They still have not done this and then wonder why people are skeptical of their motives and their plans.

Thanks to those who came last night. There were about 100 people there!

Similar info, by Katherine Watt, NVEC Vice-President

Standing room in the room, spilling out into the hallway.

I couldn’t see anything or hear very well, but I think the main info learned is that the water authority can’t afford to fix the leaks in their distribution system causing them to lose up to 30% of their water using ratepayer funds at current rates ($4.75 per thousand-gallons), so that’s why they immediately ran with Nestle’s proposal when Nestle came to them just after Halloween 2017, as the water authority was finalizing a decade-long process of drilling and permitting a second public well to be used as a backup source of supply (PW-2) for their existing customer base.

I don’t think the water authority board has ever notified their customers about the estimated total cost to repair the leaks in the system, the estimated rate per thousand-gallons that would enable those repairs to be done by the current ratepayers, or given the customers the opportunity to shoulder those higher rates in order to protect their water from privatization by Nestle or other bottling corporations.

The information about the rationale for the proposed Nestle contract suggests that a sensible resolution shouldn’t be too hard to reach.

We need to establish three things:

  1. How much money does STWA need to make those repairs?
  2. Are STWA ratepayers willing to pay to fix their own system and thereby keep Nestle out?
  3. How much are other people in Centre County willing to kick in to help Spring Township – and other similarly cash-strapped water systems – and thereby help keep Nestle and other bottling companies out?

It’s also interesting from a large trend perspective.

Municipal authorities were created in Pennsylvania to overcome taxpayer resistance to higher taxes for public services, back in the 1960s and 70s, by making a new revenue-generating scheme whereby “taxpayers” become “ratepayers,” paying money for public services operating like private businesses.

A shell game, to be sure.

Cue Phase 3.

Decades of underinvestment in public infrastructure…flat or declining household incomes, off-shoring and automation of jobs…flat or declining income and property tax revenue for municipalities and flat or declining revenue for rate-funded municipal authorities…inflation in costs for materials to repair the broken pipes, roads, buildings, bridges…

In come the private corporations to “help,” by offering to extract and export crucial public water resources, buying it at $4.75 per thousand-gallons, and selling it on the private market at $7,500 per thousand-gallons.

No-to-Nestle Campaign Updates – March 25, 2018

Our Community Our Water: Citizens speak out against Nestle Water’s proposed agreement with Spring Township Water Authority

  • What: Spring Township Water Authority meeting
  • When: March 28, 2018 at 7 pm
  • Where: 1309 Blanchard St., Bellefonte

Contacts:

Concerned Citizens of Pleasant Gap:

Nittany Valley Environmental Coalition


LITIGATION PLANNING

A legal team got together and has consulted with an attorney to represent us as we go forward with legal options for stopping the Nestle water extraction and bottling plant plans. The same attorney helped Kunkletown, PA in Eldred Township find a legal solution to get Nestle out of their community before they could get started, which took two years of litigation.

OUTREACH

Door knocking continues today and tomorrow 1-5 pm in Spring Township to obtain petition signatures to say NO to Nestle, recruit volunteers and answer questions community members might have. If you are interested in helping, please contact Courtney Morris at creolemaroon83@gmail.com or Lynne Heritage at llheritage@comcast.net.

VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES

Volunteers needed! Can you volunteer to lead or serve on a team to help with the following efforts?

  1. Volunteer recruitment: Coordinate phone calls to people who signed up to volunteer at one of our events and ask them how they’d like to help.
  2. Data entry: Enter names and contact information for people in Spring Township that have signed the No to Nestle petitions into a Google spreadsheet (like using Excel).
  3. Door Knocking: A Spring Township resident who can organize people to knock doors in their Spring Twp neighborhood asking for petition signatures and/or drop flyers.
  4. Public information flyers: As time passes and new events occur, we need someone who can design new handouts to provide information to residents.

YARD SIGNS

Lynne is ordering No to Nestle yard signs and will get them out to people who have signed up for a yard sign or want one in the future. They will cost about $5 per sign.

SOURCE DOCUMENTS

Source documents from Right to Know requests and other public sources can be found at the following link:

https://stopnestlewaterextraction.wordpress.com

documents are roughly organized by source as listed in the right sidebar.

TALK TO YOUR ELECTED AND APPOINTED REPRESENTATIVES

We strongly encourage residents of Spring Township to talk with your supervisors and/or Water Authority Board members in person to tell them how you feel about the plan to allow Nestle to take over as Primary user as one of your wells.

This will affect you whether you are a water customer or a private well owner, especially if you live in Spring Township, Bellefonte Borough or Potter Township.

Also, the Centre County Commissioners have been involved in facilitating Nestle’s plans and they need to hear from you as well if you are not happy about this. You can contact any of the people on this list below and get a meeting. It works best to have two or three people go together. Contact info below.

You could also write them a letter.

SPRING TOWNSHIP OFFICIALS

Email for all supervisors: supervisors@springtownship.org

Spring Township Supervisors

  • Terry Perryman, Chair
  • David Capperella, Vice chair
  • Frank Royer

Spring Township Water Authority:

  • Doug Weikel, Chair – 1109 E. Springfield Drive, Bellefonte
  • Larry (Teko) Palchak – 602 Pine Ridge Circle, Bellefonte
  • Gary Catalano – 173 Arbor Bluff Drive, Bellefonte
  • Jason Martin – 141 Arbor Bluff Drive, Bellefonte
  • Nathan Barnhart – 105 Limestone Drive, Bellefonte

Barnhart is the one who abstained from voting on the non-binding Terms agreement at the February 28, 2018 STWA meeting, saying he did not have enough information since he is new to the board.

Benner Township Supervisors: BENNERTWP@aol.com

  • Randy Moyer, Chair
  • David Wise, Vice-Chair
  • Mark Capriani

Centre County Commissioners:

  • Mike Pipe, Chair
 – mike@centrecountypa.gov
  • Mark Higgins – mark@centrecountypa.gov
  • Vice-Chair Steve Dershem – sdershem@centrecountypa.gov

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Write a letter to the Editor of the Centre Daily Times, the Gazette, or other news source. Terry Melton is leading that effort and can help you with how to submit a letter and even write a draft for you to edit and submit. Contact her at terrymelton321@gmail.com

PUBLIC COMMENTS AT PUBLIC MEETINGS

Attend and let your voice be heard during public comment period at meetings, or just come to support those who are there to speak against Nestle.

PLEASE attend the March 28 meeting of the Water Authority. The Spring Township Water Authority may vote on the Agreement with Nestle at that meeting and we need to be there to speak against it or at least support those who do.

The event on April 18 is also important. Lara Fowler is an expert in water law and will be mediating discussion among key stakeholders about the Nestle proposed water extraction plan.

UPCOMING MEETINGS

All addresses in Bellefonte or Pleasant Gap

  • Wednesday, March 28, 7 pm, Spring Township Water Authority –Spring Township Building, 1309 Blanchard Street
  • Monday, April 2, 7 pm, Spring Township Board of Supervisors – Spring Township Building, 1309 Blanchard Street
  • Wednesday, April 18, 6:30 – 8:45, Water Resource Public Forum – Forum of stakeholders organized by
Spring Creek Watershed Commission. Moderated by Lara Fowler, PSU Law School. Location: Central PA Institute of Science and Technology 540 N. Harrison Road, Pleasant Gap
  • Wednesday, April 25, 7 pm, Spring Township Water Authority –Spring Township Building, 1309 Blanchard Street
  • Monday, May 7, 7 pm, Spring Township Board of Supervisors –Spring Township Building, 1309 Blanchard Street

Above information as 2-page PDF: 3.25.18 No to Nestle Update

Updates

No to Nestle Campaign

Item 1 – Audio Recording of March 14 Public Forum

An audio recording of the March 14, 2018 “No-to-Nestle” community meeting is now available:

Approximately 300 people attended and campaign organizing is ongoing.

Item 2 – GoFundMe campaign for No Nestle litigation costs.

For readers interested in financially supporting likely litigation to stop the Nestle project, the campaign has set up a GoFundMe site.

Item 3 – Tabling at Banff Mountain Film Festival

On April 13 and 14, Sierra Club-Moshannon Group and Nittany Valley Environmental Coalition will be tabling at the Banff Mountain Film Festival at the State Theatre, starting at 6 p.m. each day. Stop by for information about the No-to-Nestle campaign.

Slab Cabin Run Water & Farmland Protection Campaign

In December, Penn State finalized sale, for $13.5 million, of about 45 acres along Whitehall Road, to Toll Brothers, for development of luxury student apartments. Through subdivision plan notes, the Toll Brothers project is related to plans for development of up to 100 acres of land jointly owned by the Centre Region Council of Governments and Ferguson Township, slated for development by the Centre Region Parks & Recreation Authority as the Whitehall Road Regional Park (WRRP).

Construction of the student housing development is expected to begin this spring, and discussions of WRRP planning are underway.

Item 1: March 19 Ferguson Township discussion of Whitehall Road Regional Park plans.

On March 19, the Ferguson Township Board of Supervisors will be discussing “planned infrastructure” for the Whitehall Road Regional Park, as it relates to several regional topics.

Meeting starts at 7 p.m. at the Ferguson Township Municipal Building, 3147 Research Drive. “Whitehall Road Regional Park Planned Infrastructure” is Item 8 on the supervisors’ agenda.

Please attend this meeting to advocate for conservation of a portion of the 100 acre parcel for the proposed regional park and amenities including reforestation, bird, butterfly and pollinator habitat and nature trails.

For brief reorientation, the regional park has been a controversial local issue for several reasons including its location in a sensitive groundwater recharge area; its financial connection to the adjacent private student housing development; its public funding from the five COG municipalities that participate in the regional parks program; and its joint governance through the Centre Region Parks & Recreation Authority (“Parks Authority”), an independent municipal authority comprised of appointed members, and the Centre Region Council of Governments Parks Capital Committee, a committee comprised of elected officials from each participating municipality, who review projects on behalf of the full COG General Forum.

More detail is available in the Bailiwick News March 18 edition, forthcoming.

Item 2: March 24 Art Workshop in Lemont & April 6 Exhibit Opening at State Theatre

The Art Alliance of Central Pennsylvania in partnership with the Nittany Valley Environmental Coalition is offering a free hands-on Community Art Workshop to memorialize the farmland and watershed off Whitehall Road.

The event will be held on Saturday, March 24, from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Art Alliance, 818 Pike Street in Lemont.

Join artist and educator Nicole Packard to create art commemorating the beautiful landscape along Slab Cabin Run with Tussey Ridge in the background, before it’s destroyed by development. All supplies will be provided, no art experience is necessary and the event is free and open to adults and children.

Attendees will be encouraged to offer their art for inclusion alongside the works of local area artists at the State Theatre exhibit running from April 2-30 with a special event there April 6 from 5-7 p.m.

Register online.

Then, on Friday, April 6, The Art Alliance and Nittany Valley Environmental Coalition will host an art exhibit opening reception from 5 to 7 p.m. at the State Theatre. Works of art capturing the Slab Cabin Run landscape will be on display, with opportunities to meet the artists and participate in a discussion about regional land use issues. The exhibit will be on display from April 2 through April 30.

Facebook event page.

Item 3 – April 2 – Public Hearing on Financial Liability for Public Water Well Pollution

A few months ago, Ferguson Township citizen Pam Steckler drafted and circulated a petition to Ferguson Township Board of Supervisors, under a Home Rule Charter provision that requires the supervisors to hold a public hearing within 90 days of submission, on any matter for which the proper number of signatures is obtained.

The petition reads:

“We, the undersigned, believe the Harter and Thomas Wellfields have been put unnecessarily at risk to pollution by the selling of Penn State University land, at Whitehall Road, to the Toll Brothers Developers, in order to build student housing, to be known as “The Cottages at State College.” Since the acreage being developed is directly upland of these wells, and the geology is known as karst topography, the likelihood of runoff, regardless of detention and infiltration basins, seems probable as we enter into an era of extreme weather events due to Climate Change.

Therefore, we respectfully request Ferguson Township require written confirmation, prior to construction, that PSU and Toll Brothers are to be held financially responsible, in perpetuity, for any pollution to these wells directly attributable to the Cottages Development. And that the residents/taxpayers/rate-payers of Ferguson Township would not bear the financial burden should our water be rendered polluted by this development, which was pushed forward unguided by the Precautionary Principle and despite citizens concerns and actions of dissent.”

Steckler obtained the required number of signatures on the petition, and the required public hearing is now scheduled for Monday, April 2, 7 p.m. at the Ferguson Township Municipal Building, 3147 Research Drive.

ITEM 4 – Easement requested for sewer main across deed-restricted water conservation land

At the Jan. 18, 2018 State College Borough Water Authority (“SCBWA”) board meeting, the board discussed an easement request for a 4,000-foot forced sewer main across a 60-acre deed-restricted well-field conservation parcel, to convey raw sewage from more than 1,000 Penn State students in the Toll Brothers development, along with sewage from users of the Whitehall Road Regional Park, from a pump station at the bottom of the hill upgradient to Whitehall Road.

The board voted to table the request.

More detail is available in the Bailiwick News March 18, 2018 edition, forthcoming.

Report on Last Night’s Community Meeting

From Kelli Hoover, President of Nittany Valley Environmental Coalition

Great event last night with the community coming out to say NO to Nestle.

We should be VERY concerned about Nestle’s statement Monday night that Spring Township Water Authority would continue to own the well Nestle will take over.

That’s irrelevant.

The fact is that Nestle would not come here to build a $50 million bottling plant without a long-term guarantee of the use of that water. STWA is planning to convey a water-right to Nestle that would take an expensive, protracted legal battle to reverse should Spring Creek water quantity or quality begin to be affected, or private wells begin to see a drop in water levels.

It’s not as simple as STWA just saying to Nestle, we want you to shut off your spigot. Once Nestle is in, there is no getting them out or stopping them from increasing how much water they take.

Show me a community that has been able to do that without a huge legal battle.

Thanks to Sierra Club for hosting the event and Elaine at Webster’s for the donation of refreshments.

Door-knocking this weekend, and three upcoming public forums

From Sierra Club – Moshannon Group

For those interested in helping to block Nestle from pumping water in the Spring Creek Watershed, there will be a door-to-door flyer drop in Spring Township.

The plan is to go out this weekend from 1 – 5 pm on Saturday, March 10 and Sunday, March 11.

We’re meeting at the home of Courtney Morris, 268 S. Main St. in Pleasant Gap near the Pleasant Gap Elementary School. Park around the corner on Whiterock Road.

For more info, contact Lynne Heritage – llheritage@comcast.net.


From ClearWater Conservancy

 

Join the conversation about the management of our water resources: March 12, March 14, and April 18

On February 28, the Spring Township Water Authority voted to adopt a “Water Supply Agreement Term Sheet” between Nestle Waters North America and STWA. This Term Sheet is not a legally binding, finalized agreement. According to the document which can be found here, the ‘Term Sheet constitutes only an outline of significant terms and a statement of mutual intentions.’

As illustrated by Jim McClure in 1981 (image above), ClearWater Conservancy is founded on the belief that ‘ we’re all in the same bathtub.’ The water each one of us relies on for household, industrial, and recreational use knows no municipal boundaries. We all share the important job of responsibly managing our region’s water supply.

Below are upcoming opportunities to stay informed, ask questions, and provide feedback regarding Nestle’s proposed plan to purchase water from Spring Township Water Authority and build a bottled water manufacturing facility in the region.

Please note the varying hosts and Q&A formats for each event.


Monday, March 12 – 6:30-8:30 pm – Nestle public information session

Hosted by Nestle, Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology (CPI), 540 N. Harrison Road, Pleasant Gap

Nestle Waters regional Natural Resource Manager Eric Andreus will give a short presentation about the proposed factory located in Spring or Benner townships. A panel of experts will also be available to answer questions. Community members can submit questions by filling out a card beforethe session, by emailing NWNA.Pennsylvania@outlook.com or calling 1-800-450-7599.


Wednesday, March 14 – 6:30-9:00 pm – NO to Nestle Forum

Sponsored by the Sierra Club Moshannon Group and Nittany Valley Environmental Coalition, Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology (CPI), 540 N. Harrison Road, Pleasant Gap

Event information provided by hosts: Nestle wants to extract a over 360,000 gallons of groundwater per day from Spring Creek Watershed and build a plastic water bottling plant in either Spring or Benner Township. This is 32X what the largest commercial customer uses currently. Concerned citizens have organized a public forum about the issues. Please bring your questions, concerns and your reusable water bottle! Facebook event here


Wedneday, April 18 – Time to be determined – Water Use Forum

Hosted by Spring Creek Watershed Commission, Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology (CPI), 540 N. Harrison Road, Pleasant Gap

A water use forum will be hosted by Lara Fowler from Penn State Law. The forum is at the invitation of the Spring Creek Watershed Commission. Lara teaches an environmental mediation course at Penn State and will be inviting in all interested stakeholders to discuss factual realities and concerns around water uses and seek to establish a record of common ground with her 18 students from her class. Denny Hameister who chaired the commission may be able to offer additional insight.


Upcoming Meetings – Spring Township Water Authority
Wednesdays, March 28 and April 25 @ 7 pm

Share Feedback with ClearWater: 

No to Nestle – Public Forum Wednesday, March 14

ANNOUNCEMENT – NO to Nestle Public Forum

Wednesday, March 14, 6:30 – 9 pm at Central PA Institute of Science and Technology (CPI), 540 N. Harrison Road, Pleasant Gap

Nestle wants to extract a massive amount of groundwater per day from Spring Creek Watershed and build a plastic water bottling plant in either Spring or Benner Township.

Concerned citizens have organized a public forum about the issues. Although Nestle has been investigating this water source for years, they and the Spring Creek Water Authority waited until it was a done deal to make it public.

Small towns all over the country have experienced Nestle’s predatory behavior and have had to fight back, often at great expense (Osceola, MI; Fryeburg, ME; San Bernardino National Forest, CA; Hood River County, OR; Kunkletown, PA). See the link below about Kunkletown, PA’s battle against Nestle.

NOTE: Nestle has announced a Nestle-sponsored public meeting for Monday, March 12 at CPI.

If you’ve only got time for one meeting next week, come to the Wednesday, March 14 forum organized by locals, where your voice will be heard and the truth will be spoken.

Please bring your questions, concerns and your reusable water bottle!

Sponsored by the Sierra Club Moshannon Group and Nittany Valley Environmental Coalition. Participants include ClearWater Conservancy and Food and Water Watch.

More information:

Bailiwick News – March 1, 2018

3.1.18 Bailiwick News (PDF)

Upcoming Meetings Re: Nestle Proposal

  • March 5 – Spring Township Board of Supervisors Meeting, 7 p.m., 1309 Blanchard St., Bellefonte
  • March 14 – Sierra Club Moshannon Group and Nittany Valley Environmental Coalition will host a public forum on the proposed Nestle bottling plant on Wednesday, March 14 at 7 p.m. at the Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology (CPI), 540 N. Harrison Road, Pleasant Gap
  • March 19 – Spring Township Planning Commission Meeting, 7 p.m., 1309 Blanchard St., Bellefonte
  • March 28 – Spring Township Water Authority Board Meeting, 7 p.m., 1309 Blanchard St., Bellefonte

Citizen Public Statements on Nestle Proposal

Reprinted with permission of the authors or from public documents accessed via the PA Right to Know Law.

David Roberts, Bellefonte

January 25, 2018 email to Bill MacMath, Spring Township Manager, regarding the Spring Township Water Authority Board meeting the previous day.

I attended the January 24, 2018 Water Authority Meeting with concerns about a proposed water extraction by Nestles. I am David Roberts, residing at (…) Valley View Road, Bellefonte PA, and I wish to share concerns with the Township Manager about the meeting conducted by Mr. Doug Weikel.

I do not receive water from the Authority since the system does not extend to my house along Valley View Road but I am a customer of the Spring, Benner, Walker Joint Authority and a born and bred Centre County resident. Mr. Weikel seemed to think it was quite amusing that a sewer customer had concerns about water.

To our current knowledge, the Chamber of Industry and Business in Centre County (CIBCC) was instrumental in the Nestles water withdrawl proposal.

This process has really been progressing outside of public input and it was clear from Chair Doug Weikel that public comment was not sought or welcome.

Personally I found Mr. Weikel to be very condescending. He wished to hold to some rules of order (Roberts Rules?) to prohibit our comments while lecturing us about our ignorance and basically he seems to think we are all just out to get Nestles.

We are concerned about local water rights and environmental impacts.

The issue here is not…where were you all when, as Mr. Weikel lectured everyone about…the issue is the horrible track record of Nestles in water extraction.

We need to protect our precious water, however once Nestles gets a permit for extraction we can wave goodbye to those water rights.

I attended to ask that any permit agreement be very carefully crafted to preserve local water rights. With the rapid onset of global warming what were once reliable water sources may suddenly change and be much less productive.

There may come a time when we will be buying bottled water from Nestles because our wells are running dry.

I have the impression that the Board considers the unused or un-extracted water from Big Spring to be wasted water, however there are many benefits from this downstream water and there is a definite downstream impact from water removal.

There are many issues to consider and the Board has dismissed our concerns basically unheard and not part of their considerations.’There was a group of concerned local residents at the meeting whose concerns, comments and input are being swept aside by Mr. Weikel.

Beth Whitman, Spring Township

February 27, 2018 letter to Doug Weikel, Chair of Spring Township Water Authority Board

Access to safe and affordable water is a fundamental and constitutional human right. The statements from meeting minutes indicating that there will be no public input and that the decision to proceed is near certain is irresponsible and highly suspicious.

As one of our township leaders, the community relies on you to research, carefully study and seek public input on critical proposals like the Nestlé Waters interest in Spring and Benner townships. Water is a finite and precious natural resource that should not be sold as a commodity to be exploited by a notoriously predatory entity. Water is not manufactured nor produced. The environmental impact should be studied by an unbiased third-party that possesses a long-standing and well-respected history for providing their services and expert insight.

While I can understand the initial excitement of a promised $50 million dollar facility and fifty good-paying manufacturing jobs, the history of small towns and large regions being preyed upon by this multi-billion dollar company is staggering. The pittance dollar amounts being tossed around as benefitting the county, schools and local municipalities is insulting.

A quick search on the Internet yields many reports and accounts of small towns and regions with great regret and fiscally exhausting legal battles that last decades attempting to untangle the caustic web that Nestlé uses to hold them captive.* Fryeburg Maine, Denver Colorado, Sacramento California, Osceola Township Michigan, and Lahore Pakistan are just a few such examples.

Our own community of Mountaintop in Snow Shoe has recently been reminded of the critical nature of clean water being available to their community. The public sees straight through the veil of Nestlé’s donation of 1600 cases of water to offer aid and the political agenda behind soliciting this donation.

My residence is located in a small neighborhood that is served by a community well. For many years, the water needs of this established neighborhood have been meet without issue, even in times of drought. If a for-profit company begins to reduce the groundwater in our area; it will be impossible to prove that there is any connection and our neighborhood will be left to bear the financial and environmental brunt of locating an alternative water supply.

Further consideration of the environmental impact of the truck traffic on our local highways and the safety of the residents is also needed. When will the Nestle study be released? Public hearings and information sessions are a must and honestly long overdue.

What is the water budget for our ever expanding county and who manages this? How does this fold in with what CCDA (a Howard-based bottling company) is already extracting? How might this impact the local fishing and recreation businesses?

We should also be considering the impact of adding billions more plastic bottles to an already overwhelming environmental global disaster. It is estimated that 91% of all plastic is not recycled and that 12 billion metric tons of plastic will end up in landfills by 2050. The North Pacific garbage patch may be a million square miles in size already.

Please take immediate action to schedule public input sessions and gather in-depth and unbiased scientific data.

Please operate from a space of personal and professional ethical and transparent actions. If you have a history with Nestlé Water, it would be fair to publicly disclose the parameters of that relationship. The township residents are counting on you to be a visionary and not lose sight of our long-term stability in the flurry of empty promises from a predatory entity

*Whitman listed links to more than 20 articles, from sources including National Geographic, ZMEscience, fastcompany.com, Newsweek, British Broadcasting Corporation, USA Today, The Guardian, Truthout, National Public Radio, Public Radio International, Food and Water Watch, CommonDreams, and Bill Moyers.com.

Courtney Morris and Martin Perna, Pleasant Gap

February 28, 2018 report posted the Concerned Citizens of Pleasant Gap Facebook page.

Just back from tonight’s meeting with the water board. In this post, we are just laying out the facts of what took place at the meeting with no opinions or editorializing. If you want to know what we think you can read that in the other posts.

There were several residents from the area but only a handful who were actually Spring Township water customers. The feeling in the room was one of concern. While the supervisors received the public’s questions and comments, they were largely unable to answer most of the questions including the length of the agreement, contingency plans in case of water shortage, contingency plans if the agreement becomes untenable and we need to pursue legal action against Nestle, and the environmental impacts of water extraction and the bottling facility.

They claimed that they could not answer these questions because the contract has not been finalized while community members stated that these are issues that would need to be addressed prior to signing a formal agreement.

Several community members spoke stating their concerns about the proposal. A member from Ferguson Township’s board also spoke highlighting the concerns of local residents and ways that the board might productively address those concerns.

In addition to the issues outlined above, community members also expressed concern about the potential for increased plastic waste in the region’s waterways and waste streams as well as the public health impacts of plastic contamination. Others expressed concern about the impact of increased truck traffic in the area, but the STWA board chair stated that matter does not fall under their administrative purview.

Local residents repeatedly requested that the STWA hold a public forum to discuss these issues in greater detail, provide more information about the process for formalizing the agreement with Nestle, and providing more transparency in the decision-making process. The board chair said that we were welcome to attend the STWA’s monthly meetings, held on each 4th Wednesday, but that they were not responsible for ensuring additional public forums or ensuring that Nestle representatives would participate in these discussions.

There were some indications that Nestle might hold such a gathering but the water board refused to commit to ensuring that this happened and instead left it up to customers and concerned citizens from throughout the county to organize their own public event. It is unclear whether STWA representatives would participate in these public forums.

Additionally, some board members stated that all its meetings are open to the public and stated that people had not participated in the process earlier when the initial announcement was made in November 2017. Community members responded that they had been largely unaware of the agreement and that STWA should have been more proactive about informing its customers about the Nestle proposal. The board chair responded that the information is available in the Centre Daily Times and that it is not their job to notify the public.

The board chair stated that many of the residents’ questions could be addressed by reading Nestle’s economic impact study and the Susquehanna River Basin Commission’s study. Community members stated that both of these documents are rather difficult to locate online, and when they pressed the board to make these documents available on the STWA website, the board declined to do so.

At this point, the board ended the public comment period on the Nestle agreement. They then quickly moved through a number of other administrative and financial matters, including getting some reports on water management. Good news: the STWA has reduced by 5 percent the amount of unaccounted-for-water as the result of leaks. If you notice any standing water on days when it hasn’t rained or your yard is especially soggy, let them know. They’re trying to fix that.

The board chair then stated they would vote on an 8-page non-binding term sheet, but that the contents and terms of this agreement would not be made public until AFTER they voted on it. The term sheet is NOT the agreement with Nestle. They will still need to approve that separately. In order to access this document, a customer would need to file an RTK (Right to Know request) to the STWA office. They refused to discuss the contents of the agreement before the vote citing their existing protocols and legal concerns.

It was clear that at least two of the board members had not read the economic impact study that Nestle completed about the bottling facility. Nor was there a physical copy of the economic impact study on hand to review. Nor did they take into account concerns from customers about the numerous reports of Nestle’s contractual and environmental violations in small, rural communities across the country in California, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Maine.

Towards the end of the meeting — just prior to voting — they clarified some of the terms. They included the following (folks who were there feel free to add anything we might have missed):

  1. Nestle would not have extraction rights: The Spring Township Water Authority would segregate their water usage and they would be limited to a single well. The STWA also announced plans to build a third well so that there would be two additional water sources should the need ever arise. In any case, the STWA would have to construct an initial pipeline to deliver the water to Nestle (they said that Nestle will reimburse STWA for construction costs) but the STWA will retain control over the wells and control how much water Nestle has access to. This is important, Nestle will not be able to drill and remove water on its own, STWA will retain control over water access and supposedly has the right to control the flow as needed/permitted.
  2. The well flow capacity at this time is 500 gallons per minute. Nestle will take 300 gallons per minute.
  3. They said that they don’t know the site of the bottling facility yet: it could be in Spring or Benner Township.
  4. They didn’t reveal the location of the well and said that they could not do so for security reasons.
  5. They also stated that the STWA would retain control over all of the wells and in the event of a water shortage they would retain the right to reduce the amount that Nestle can tap in order to maintain uninterrupted regular service for Spring Township residential consumers.
  6. They stated that Nestle would be charged like any other customer, indeed they are considered a customer no different than residential consumers (as this has been the case for all their corporate customers in the past). The STWA currently does not charge corporate customers at a higher rate or excise fee.
  7. Nestle will be receiving untreated water.

The board chair moved to vote on the terms, the motion was seconded and the board voted. Only one member voted against it, citing the fact that he was not opposed or in favor of the project but that he had not had enough time to carefully review the terms prior to the vote. Every other member of the board voted to approve the terms.

It is unclear whether we as consumers have any say in the final agreement. We are welcome to attend the monthly meeting in March and voice our concerns but at this point the board has stated that they are not legally obligated to engage in a public consultation process with Spring Township residents.

The meeting was then adjourned.

Meetings tonight and tomorrow.

Meeting tonight of Spring Township Water Authority Board

The Spring Township Water Authority Board will meet tonight (Wednesday, February 28) at 7:00 p.m. at the Spring Township Building, 1309 Blanchard Street, Bellefonte.

Centre County citizens concerned about the proposed Nestle water bottling plant are likely to attend and attempt to speak to the issues during public comment periods.

Community Forum tomorrow on “Sustainable Urban Planning” through the lens of the Toll Brothers/PSU Whitehall Road student housing development

Tomorrow (Thursday, March 1) there will be a forum organized by the Penn State Graduate Student Association, at 6 pm in the Flex Theater in the HUB on Penn State’s campus. (Flex Theater is located on the second floor of the HUB, just up from the main eating area.)

Here is a link to the event.

Peter Buckland, Academic Programs Manager at the Penn State Sustainability Institute and also chair of the Ferguson Township Board of Supervisors, is moderating the panel discussion.

Nittany Valley Environmental Coalition President Kelli Hoover is one of the panel participants, along with David Yoxtheimer, consulting hydrogeologist for the State College Borough Water Authority and possibly Cory Miller, executive director of the University Area Joint (Sewer) Authority.

Bailiwick News – February 23, 2018

Economic v. environmental impact: an agonizing neighbor-against-neighbor choice that Centre County citizens should move beyond, into win-win.

2.23.18 Bailiwick News

By Katherine Watt

In early January, the Centre Daily Times reported on CBICC (Chamber of Business and Industry of Centre County) plans to facilitate a Nestle Waters North America plan to open a groundwater extraction plant somewhere in Centre County, most likely in Spring Township.

The proposed extraction rate of 300 gallons per minute equals 432,000 gallons per day.

Since then, several area conservation groups including ClearWater Conservancy, Sierra Club Moshannon Group, and Nittany Valley Environmental Coalition (NVEC), have been working to learn more about the proposal and Nestle’s corporate record of water extraction in other communities.

Several members of NVEC have submitted document requests under the Pennsylvania Right to Know Law to Centre County public entities involved in the recruitment and project review processes, and the group has set up a website to house the collected documents at stopnestlewaterextraction.wordpress.com.

The proposed Nestle plan pits possible much-needed living-wage jobs and public tax revenue against the public’s right and duty to protect crucial water resources and high-quality cold-water fisheries for present and future generations.

Corporate investment packages can be structured to create decent jobs without undermining critical human life-support systems.

Let’s push our county government leaders to articulate and implement an ecosystem-supporting community development vision, and not be complicit in the extractive corporate model.

BACKGROUND

In December 1970, the US Congress adopted the Susquehanna River Basin Compact, in response to water pollution and over-usage of water in the basin, which includes territory in Pennsylvania, New York and Maryland, and supplies half the freshwater flow to the Chesapeake Bay.

The compact was published by the Pennsylvania legislature in May 1972, and provides “the mechanism to guide the conservation, development, and administration of the water resources of the vast river basin.”

The Spring Creek basin, one of the headwaters, falls under SRBC jurisdiction as part of the West Branch Susquehanna sub-basin. All of our county water authorities must apply for permits to withdraw, consume or divert water from our highly networked ground and surface sources.

Spring Township Water Authority is one of those public entities.

The precursor entity – Pleasant Gap Water Company – incorporated in 1910, and was granted permission in 1945 to withdraw up to 100,000 gallons per day from the area around Axemann Spring, Armour Run, Lonebargers Run and Bruss Spring.

Those water sources flow into Gap Run, and then into the Logan Branch tributary of Spring Creek. The complex connections create steady flows of cold subsurface water into surface creeks and runs, key to maintaining the lower temperatures needed by cold-water fish populations, angler locals and tourists, and outdoor recreation businesses.

Spring Township Water Authority incorporated in 1967, adding Benner Township to its service area. In 1983 and 1984 – in response to the drought of 1980-1983, the Spring Township authority was authorized on an emergency basis to draw up to 300,000 gallons per day from the local springs and creeks, and later authorized for that same limit on a permanent basis.

In 1990 and 1991, the authority was notified that it was violating its permit, and moved to apply to SRBC for a permit allowing withdrawal of up to 600,000 gallons per day.

In September 1993, the SRBC approved the permit, stipulating: “the Commission reserves the right, based upon new findings, to reopen any project docket and make additional orders that may be necessary to mitigate or avoid adverse impacts or otherwise to protect the public health, safety, or welfare. Commission approval confers no property rights upon project sponsors.”

If the Nestle project is approved, the 432,000 gallons extracted per day will export more than two-thirds of the Spring Township Water Authority’s permitted daily withdrawal, out of the Spring Creek basin.

PROPOSED NESTLE PROJECT

Early November 2017

From the documents collected so far, the Centre County project appears to have hit the public government sector “several weeks” before November 28. According to Email 12 and Email 13 provided by Centre County via RTK, participants in the meeting (date and location unknown) included CBICC President Vern Squier; CBICC Vice President Jennifer Myers; Nestle Waters “Natural Resources Manager” Eric Andreus; Centre County commissioners; Kurt Knaus, Managing Director for Ceisler Media & Issue Advocacy firm (working with Nestle); and Centre County Administrator Margaret Gray.

The contents of the meeting as reflected in agendas, minutes and notes are unknown, despite having been specifically listed in the original request. These documents have been requested again in a follow-up RTK request.

We’ve since learned that Penn State Vice President for Finance and Business David Gray – Margaret Gray’s husband – also serves on the CBICC board of directors.

November 22, 2017

On November 22, 2017, the project appeared under “New Business” for the Spring Township Water Authority board meeting.

The minutes state:

“Nestle Water – Doug Weikel, Chairman, reported Nestle Water would like to purchase non-chlorinated water from The Authority. They are looking at other areas as well, however, with the new well site they are willing to pay for the pipeline and a replacement well in addition to the water. This would be a benefit to The Authority. They have submitted an Access Agreement to give them the right to have their contractors and consultants complete their own testing to prove the water is directly from a well non chlorinated etc. After some discussion, it was on a motion of John Schiffhauer seconded by Gary Catalano to approve ratifying the access agreement. Unanimously approved motion carried.”

We’ve since learned from public databases that Weikel is Director of Civil Engineering for Herbert, Rowland, & Grubic, Inc. (HRG), and has served on the Spring Township Water Authority since 2004.

November 28, 2017

On November 28, Centre County Planning Director Robert Jacobs met with Nestle Waters’ Andreus; CBICC’s Myers; and Centre County Administrator Margaret Gray, according to information in Emails 9 to 12 from Centre County. Meeting contents unknown; minutes have been requested again, in a follow-up Right to Know request.

November 29 – December 1, 2017

On November 29, Jacobs emailed Andreus, copying Mrs. Gray and Ms. Myers. (Email 9)

Jacobs wrote to Andreus that he (Jacobs) had reviewed the zoning ordinances in Benner and Spring Townships and made the following comments:

“…Benner Township has Campus Industrial and Light Industrial zoning districts in the Benner Commerce Park. Both districts provide for “Manufacturing, packaging, storage and/or wholesaling” as a permitted use by right.

Although bottling water isn’t a specific use identified in either district, I would argue that it fits this permitted use category.

The definition of “Manufacturing” in the Benner ordinance clearly provides for your proposed activity: Manufacturing – Production of goods from raw materials, by the assembly of constituent parts produced elsewhere, or by a combination of these means, including the final packaging such goods for sale or shipment. Includes all activities included in the NAICS (q.v.) list of “manufacturing” activities….

Likewise, Spring Township has Light Industrial and Heavy Industrial zoning districts. The site you are considering is located in the Light Industrial district. This district does not specifically provide for your proposed activity. However, it allows for “medical device manufacturing”, “Pharmaceutical production and packaging”, and “Warehousing and wholesale trade establishments.”

These permitted uses by right in my opinion are in the same category of activity that you are proposing.

The Heavy Industrial district does provide for “Any production, manufacturing, assembly, processing, cleaning, repair, storage, or distribution of goods, materials, foodstuffs, and other products not involving a retail activity except as an accessory use.” The definition of “Manufacturing” in the Spring ordinance clearly provides for your proposed activity:

Manufacturing use – The processing and/or converting of raw unfinished materials or finished materials or products, or any combination of them, into an article or substance of different character, or of use of a different purpose. Additionally, the term manufacturing shall include industries furnishing labor in manufacturing or in the refurbishing of manufactured articles. This use includes apparel and textile products, chemicals and allied products, electric and electronic equipment, fabricated metal products, food and kindred products, lumber and wood products, machinery, paper and allied products, petroleum and coal products, stone, clay and glass products, textile mill products, tobacco products, transportation equipment and miscellaneous industries including the manufacture of jewelry, silverware, musical instruments, toys and sporting goods, office and art supplies, costume jewelry, notions, etc.

The Light Industrial district in Spring Township may need to be amended but the intent of the district is to provide for your proposed activity – based on the information in their ordinance I would make the request for a permitted use by right.

Recommendation – You could make the argument in both Townships that your proposed activity is intended as a permitted use by right in all of the industrial zoning districts. Most likely they do not want to go through the ordinance amendment process (advertising, public hearings, etc.) for your proposed use because in my opinion it is not necessary.

I would use the info above to make your request as a permitted use by right. If you would like assistance with this, please let me know and we can discuss this with the municipalities.” (Emphasis added)

Andreus replied on December 1, noting he “appreciated” Jacobs’ “interpretation of the zoning ordinances relating to manufacturing facilities.”

December 20, 2017

On December 20, the Spring Township Water Authority held its monthly meeting. The minutes noted:

“SOLICITORS REPORT: John Miller, Solicitor – Mr. Miller reported he reviewed the Loan Documents and the Access Agreement with Nestle Water and has no comments, document is fine.

CORRESPONDENCE/INFORMATION: Nestle Water – Doug Weikel, Chairman, reported he has talked with Eric Andreus of Nestle Water and they are at 99.9% go, will perform draw down test next. He will be at the January meeting to introduce himself and explain status.”

January 4, 2017

Scheduled for 8:00 a.m. on January 4 at the CBICC 0ffices (131 S. Fraser St. in State College) — the day after the proposal would come to public attention through the Centre Daily Times – invitees and possible participants included CBICC executives; Centre County Government; Spring Township: Spring Township Water Authority; Benner Township; SBWJA; Bellefonte Wastewater Authority; West Penn Power; DEP; and State government representatives.

This meeting was referenced in “Email re: Jan. 4 meeting” provided by Centre County, but again, no other documents such as agendas, minutes and notes were provided, despite specific enumeration of those items in the original RTK request. Therefore, the contents of the meeting are currently unknown, but the supporting documents have been requested again, in a follow-up RTK request.

January 17, 2018

On January 17, the Spring Creek Watershed Commission met in Bellefonte. Following the regular meeting, there was limited public discussion of Nestle bottling plant proposal, in which commissioners reportedly stated the commission has no oversight role regarding water extraction project proposals. (The video of the meeting may be at C-Net, but the author couldn’t find it during a quick search on Feb. 22.)

Mid-January 2018

While the format is unknown (whether telephonic, electronic or in-person), CBICC President Vern Squier “counseled” Nestle Waters executives regarding the corporation’s highly-publicized bottled water donations to the Mountaintop community, which has been struggling with a decaying public pipeline system, water shortages due to conventional gas drilling water withdrawals (see Jan. 26, 2018 CDTreport by Sarah Rafacz), and boil water notices for many years, reaching crisis proportions in early January.

According to Email 17 provided by Centre County, during the counseling session, Squier steered Nestle to PA Rep. Mike Hanna’s office, Centre County Commissioner Michael Pipe, other commissioners, and Centre County Administrator Margaret Gray.

January 22, 2018

Centre County Commissioner Mark Higgins met on January 22 with Centre County Democratic Committee Vice-Chair Betsy Whitman, and Jessica Buckland, Patton Township Supervisor, cited in a text message from Higgins to Commissioner Michael Pipe on January 18 and in “Email 48,” both provided by Centre County via RTK.

Again, no minutes or other content information about this meeting was provided, so a follow-up request has been made, seeking the information again.

January 24, 2018

The Spring Township Water Authority board met January 24, attended by Spring Township resident and Sierra Club-Moshannon Group leader Lynne Heritage and other concerned citizens.

Heritage later reported that Doug Weikel, chair of the Spring Township Water Authority, previously worked for Nestle in Stroudsburg, PA, likely as a consulting engineer.

Heritage reported Weikel did all the talking at the water authority meeting and stated there will be no public hearing or meeting to allow citizens to weigh in on the proposed deal with Nestle.

January 25, 2018

On January 25, Nittany Valley Environmental Coalition issued a public statement on the proposed Nestle project, reprinted in full:

“The availability and public access to clean drinking water is a global issue, particularly in an era of climate change and increased corporate control of water resources.

The waters of Centre County are exceptionally clean and abundant; they support our families and businesses, not to mention our agriculture, fishing and hunting tourism, and watershed flora and fauna.

With care, Spring Creek should provide water for many decades of continued local population growth.

However, when millions of people opt out of drinking tap water there is less political and public support for taking care of public water supplies.

The water used by the Spring Township Water Authority comes from surface and subsurface flows around Logan Branch. Nestle Waters’ extraction of an additional 158 million gallons each year will reduce flows into Spring Creek by an equal amount, taking the water outside our community.

Other communities that have let Nestle extract local water have lost control of their water supplies, especially when confronted with drought. The callous corporate practices of Nestle in their interactions with these communities are well documented and required expensive litigation.

While we are sympathetic to the promise of jobs from Nestle, the relative benefit of job creation may not be worth the long-term cost, especially if our groundwater becomes the target for even more bottling companies, or Nestle asks for an increased water allotment.

The water under Spring Township does not belong to Spring Township alone. Nittany Valley Environmental Coalition opposes the extraction of water from Spring Creek or groundwater in the Centre Region for bottling by Nestle Waters and other water bottling companies.”

Late January 2018

On a date unknown in late January, Centre County Commissioner Mark Higgins met with Centre County Planning Director Robert Jacobs, as documented in “Email 48” provided by Centre County.

Again, the county has not provided minutes or other content information about the meeting; again, those records have been requested in a follow-up RTK request.

February 13, 2018

Email 4 from the first Centre County RTK response included an invitation to local officials to attend a tour of Nestle’s Lehigh Valley bottling plant on February 13.

Tour participation is unknown; Centre County did not provide information about local responses to the invitation, planning for the trip or attendance records. Those have been requested in a follow-up RTK request.

Also on Feb. 13, Bailiwick News posted the following to Facebook:

“Let’s suppose you’re a concerned citizen who wants to volunteer a few hours to help your community protect groundwater and surface water – in Spring Creek and downstream to the Chesapeake Bay – from extractive water withdrawals by the Nestle corporation.

Suppose you start looking for the right entity or entities to petition with your concerns, to understand the proposal review and risk assessment process, and to identify the people who will make the key decisions to protect or fail to protect a critical natural resource.

Here’s who you might find are on the list.

  • Spring Township Water Authority
  • Spring-Benner-Walker Joint (Sewer) Authority
  • Spring Township Board of Supervisors and Township Manager
  • Benner Township Board of Supervisors and Township Manager
  • Spring Township Zoning Board
  • Benner Township Zoning Board
  • State College Borough Water Authority
  • University Area Joint (Sewer) Authority
  • Chamber of Business and Industry of Centre County
  • Centre County Economic Development Partnership
  • Centre County Industrial Development Corporation
  • Centre County Commissioners
  • Centre County Planning & Community Development Office
  • Centre County Planning Commission
  • Centre County Conservation District
  • Centre Region Council of Governments
  • Centre Region Planning Commission
  • Centre Region Planning Agency
  • Spring Creek Watershed Commission
  • Spring Creek Watershed Association
  • Spring Creek Chapter – Trout Unlimited
  • ClearWater Conservancy
  • Sierra Club – Moshannon Group
  • National Wildlife Federation Climate Change Campaign – Pennsylvania Chapter
  • PA State Rep. Kerry Benninghoff
  • PA State Rep. Mike Hanna
  • PA State Sen. Jake Corman
  • PA Department of Environmental Protection
  • PA Department of Community and Economic Development
  • PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
  • Susquehanna River Basin Commission
  • Chesapeake Bay Program
  • US Rep. Glenn Thompson
  • US Environmental Protection Agency

Where would you focus your volunteer time?

Where would you try to make your voice heard?”

February 20, 2018

On February 20, ClearWater Conservancy issued a public statement, signed by Deb Nardone, Executive Director, and Andy Warner, Board President, calling for “time, science and transparency” in decisions about the future of Centre County groundwater and for an “integrated water resource management plan” for the region, reprinted in full:

“At a time when our community continues to prosper and grow, there’s an intensifying need to value, plan for and manage our water. A clean, reliable water supply is the life-blood of our community, providing for our families in our homes, sustaining our environment and outdoor recreation, and supporting a vibrant regional economy.

These discussions require time, science, and transparency…

When our community leaders consider new proposals such as the Nestle project recently proposed to be located in Spring/Benner Townships, the highest possible standard must be set to protect the integrity of our water supply, now and in the future. Thoroughly weighing benefits and risks of increasing demands on our water supply takes time, good science, and transparency in the decision-making process.

ClearWater Conservancy is driven by our core values – to focus on the future, act with integrity, and apply sound science to the responsible management of our natural resources. Based on our values, we believe the concept of an industry dependent on continuous extraction and export of our region’s groundwater raises questions and concerns that have not yet been adequately addressed.

A water budget is a good first step…

While our region’s groundwater system recharges over time, there are many factors that impact the rate of recharge and the amount of water available. Drought, commercial and industrial demands, population growth, and climate change all impact the reliability of our water supply.

ClearWater supports proactive, responsible management of our water supply, and believes our growing region would benefit from an Integrated Water Resources Management Plan. Such a plan would include a water budget that would clearly quantify the amount of available water and assess current and potential future water uses, without compromising our community or economy. This type of tool must be developed before sound, science-based decisions can be made regarding potential mass mining of water.

More opportunities for community feedback…

Additionally, ClearWater Conservancy understands that proactive source water protection and land conservation efforts are valued by our community. Our community should have input into future demands on our water supply, which observes no municipal boundaries. We would ask Spring Township and the Township Water Authority to convene town hall meetings to seek input from its residents – and all those who rely on adequate ground water for drinking water in this region – to discuss the proposal and solicit community feedback.

Lastly, Nestle and all decision makers involved have a responsibility to provide our community with both short and long-term plans for water extraction. For Nestle, this means being transparent through public forums about current and future intent regarding water withdrawals. Likewise, separate water rules and rates for commercial consumptive use should be determined, because water that is permanently exported from the region is not recycled back into our local water supply.

We expect community leaders will address the questions and needs we’ve identified above, beginning with the facilitation of constructive community conversations about our water and its use before any key decisions are made about consumptive water withdrawals for Nestle.

Please share your thoughts with us.

Please share your feedback regarding the proposed water bottling facility via email to ClearWater Conservancy’s executive director, Deb Nardone: deb@clearwaterconservancy.org. We will share your thoughts with partnering organizations and decision-makers, unless requested not to.

As always, we will keep you up to date on ClearWater’s efforts to proactively protect our region’s local natural resources for all future generations through land conservation, water resources stewardship, and environmental outreach across Central Pennsylvania.”

February 21, 2018

On February 21, Nestle announced the release of an economic impact study completed by a corporate consultant. The full document is available at stopnestlewaterextraction.wordpress.com, under “Nestle Public Relations.”

CRITICAL ANALYSIS

First off, Bob Jacobs’ “opinions” and “interpretations” about why Nestle shouldn’t bother with pesky public hearings or amendments to zoning ordinances, but should proceed as if they are entitled to extract millions of gallons of water per year for bottling and export “by right,” are bullshit.

Extraction and manufacturing are not the same things.

Jacobs’ interpretations are arguably intended only to spare Nestle and its boosters the headaches of public review and public condemnation of the plan’s intrinsic myopia.

That aside, the problem is not the likely economic impact. We unquestionably need good jobs: the dozens potentially available through Nestle’s local investment and hundreds more.

The problem is the environmental costs that come with economic benefits when the business model is extractive and brittle rather than productive and resilient.

Nestle’s proposal to invest $50 million could be excellent for our local economy if our County Commissioners made a counterproposal designed to simultaneously protect our relatively fragile groundwater system and high-quality cold water fisheries (and related tourism), and to increase profit margins and access to markets for Centre County dairy, vegetable and fruit farmers, to advance the goal of strengthening our agriculture economy.

Specifically, the commissioners could propose that instead of extractive water bottling, Nestle invest $50 million in a Centre County food processing facility creating food processing jobs, to produce frozen fruits and vegetables and dried milk products from local, sustainably produced crops and milk, for distribution and sale to consumers in the mid-Atlantic regional market.

This vision is in better alignment with our community’s values, which include both good jobs and sound natural resource stewardship.

It also aligns with comments Ferguson Township Supervisor Laura Dininni made after a Bellefonte-Milesburg greenway community forum held on Feb. 22.

Dininni described a vision of “economic development based on conserving our important ecological areas and acknowledging that people really value nature and that can be not only the ecological foundation for investment in the community but also nature can drive the social and economic aspects and investment in the community.”

Amen, sister.