Cascade Locks works toward water swap agreement

Cascade Locks city administrator hopes this will lead to a bottling plant

Oxbow Springs in Cascade Locks, May 24, 2016 (KOIN)
Oxbow Springs in Cascade Locks, May 24, 2016 (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The State of Oregon could be helping to pave the way for Nestle to buy and bottle spring water from Cascade Locks, despite a vote in Hood River County that stopped the project last spring.

The Cascade Locks city administrator says their transfer application approval is the first stop. Next they will fight for approval of a water swap to get their hands on the spring water.

Last spring, those who opposed the Nestle bottling plant took to the streets and eventually passed a measure to block big bottlers from operating in Hood River County.

Still, City Administrator Gordon Zimmerman is hopeful approval of this water transfer application for Oregon’s Department of Fish and Wildlife will eventually lead to that end.

“[It’s the] first step in a long journey for us to eventually get a water bottling plant into our city,” Zimmerman said.

This application had nothing to do with bottlers directly. It allows the state’s Oxbow Springs Hatchery to add 2 points of diversion for the water rights with a portion heading to the city of Cascade Locks under a water exchange agreement.

“They would own it, it would be theirs they could do whatever they wanted,” Rick Swart with the Department of Fish and Wildlife said.

The city would get that much-desired Oxbow Spring water and it would send the state’s hatchery well water to raise their fish in.

Swart says a health study has already been completed on the fish in the well water.

Nestle spokesperson Chris Rieck gave this statement to KOIN:

“While Nestlé Waters North America is not an applicant in this regulatory process, we have been following the process closely and we fully support the ODFW in ultimately pursuing the Water Exchange with the City of Cascade Locks.”

Zimmerman said they will be legally going after the county vote prohibiting bit bottlers from entering the county.

“When that’s done if Nestle is still interested or any other bottler, we can work out a contract with the city or whoever the bottler is, to sell them the water to be bottled,” Zimmerman said.