Wacissa Water War

By: Mike Vasilinda Email
By: Mike Vasilinda Email

The brand names are familiar..Deer Park..or Zepherhills…this Madison County Nestle waters plant pumps out more than a hundred thousand bottles an hour from a nearby spring….But the Ken Koptiuch says Company needs more to meet demand.

“We don’t necessarily use water from the same source to put on a Sam’s Club product as we would on a Zepherhills product”, says the plant manager. “So we look for alternate sources for that reason. ”

Nestle is studying whether the springs that form the Wacissa River in Jefferson county can supply up to a million and a half more gallons a day. The water would be trucked across local roads to the the bottling plant. Hardly a yard in the area is without a “say no to nestle sign” …Roland Brumbley was born here 65 years ago, and is a leading spokesperson against the plant. “We just want people to know that we love this river and we don’t want it destroyed. We don’t want these natural resources to go away”, says the 65 year old resident.

The company says it is just studying the idea…no decision has been made and won’t for at least 6 months. Koptiuch says The company will look out for the river..and pay attention to local residents. “If the scientific study shows this is not a feasible project, we will walk away”.

If approved and after paying a couple hundred dollars for a use permit, Nestle could take a million and a half gallons a day and never pay another cent.The fact the water is almost free burns local residents like Brumbley even more. “And here is a foreign company, not an American based company, coming and taking something that belongs to the people of the State of Florida for free”, says Brumbley.

Nestle says if it is going to be charged for the water by the gallon…every user should have to pay the same fee.

Governor Charlie Crist proposed a six cent a gallon extraction fee for water in 2009, but if never got a legislative hearing.

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