August 29, 2015
This morning, activists marched across The Bridge of the Gods to protest a proposed Nestlé bottled-water plant at Cascade Locks, Oregon.
The bridge is only opened once a year for pedestrian traffic. Hundreds of sightseers and community members gather for the stunning view of the Columbia River. Today, they were joined by twenty protesters, who marched with a bridge-spanning banner that read: “Stop Nestlé By Any Means Necessary.”
Nestlé is the world’s largest food and beverage firm. Despite a history of human rights abuses, this Switzerland-based corporation has made billions privatizing public water supplies around the world.
Their planned bottling facility in the Columbia River Gorge would siphon off 118 million gallons of water every year from Oxbow Springs. Opposition is widespread, especially from indigenous communities.
“Nestlé already has millions, they don’t need our water,” said Ernest J. Edwards of the Yakama Nation. “Our water is for the salmon.”
Treaties made with the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs recognize their fishing rights. Tribal member Anna Mae Leonard held a five-day hunger strike last week, surviving only on water from Oxbow Springs. Despite this community opposition, the State of Oregon and local governments have so far sided with Nestlé.
“The water of the Gorge does not belong to Nestlé. It belongs to the Salmon, to the forests, to all non-humans, and to the indigenous communities,” said protester Jules Freeman. “It’s a desecration to bottle this water in toxic plastic and sell it back to us for a profit.” Freeman is a member of Deep Green Resistance, the group that organized the protest.
Opposition to Nestlé bottled water plants has been successful in the past; projects in Florida, Wisconsin, California, and elsewhere were scrapped after communities rose up in defiance. Freeman thinks the same can be done here.
“The community does not want this, but the government has not listened. But it doesn’t matter: if they won’t stop Nestlé, we will.”
If you are concerned about the Nestlé project, contact Oregon Governor Kate Brown at 503-378-4582 and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Director Curt Melcher at 503-947-6044.