This Friday, Governor Brown requested that the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife pull back from fast-tracking a proposal to trade water rights with the City of Cascade Locks to facilitate a commercial bottling operation run by Nestle. The proposal has been on the table for several years, originating in the Administration of Governor Kulongoski.
The original concept was for ODFW to exchange water from Oxbow Springs with the City, which would then provide that water to Nestle. The exchange of water must be approved by the Oregon Water Resources Department, which must determine whether the exchange is in the public interest.
Earlier this year, ODFW decided to scrap the exchange of water and decided instead to trade a portion of its water right for Oxbow Springs to the City of Cascade Locks. A trade of water rights does not include a public interest review, and ODFW and Nestle were clear that they were trying to fast-track the project.
In today’s letter, Governor Brown asked that ODFW withdraw the application to trade water rights and to revert to the prior application for an exchange of water. This means that the transaction could still move forward, only with a more robust public process.
Crag Law Center has been representing opponents of the project for many years.
Chris Winter, Co-Executive Director, said, “Governor Brown has taken an important first step to protect the public’s interest in our State-owned waters. At the same time, it is crystal clear that this is a bad deal for Oregonians in a time of drought. Nestle has no business sinking its teeth into our public water, regardless of what process is used. We thank Governor Brown for her actions today and call on her to kill this horrible idea once and for all.”
Governor Brown’s letter is here. She also sent a letter to the Chair of the Oregon Water Resources Commission asking that it consider policy options to address the disposition of State-owned water rights.