Deborah Ball looks at the Swiss bottled water giant Nestlé and its fight against those who prefer their water delivered in more responsible ways, in the Wall Street Journal:
CASCADE LOCKS, Oregon—In this idyllic town on the north slope of Mount Hood, an autopsy on three dead rainbow trout may play a role in Nestlé SA’s efforts to reverse a deep slide in its bottled-water business.
Bottled water, which for years delivered double-digit growth for Nestlé, is under fire from environmentalists. They decry the energy used to transport it and the use of billions of plastic bottles, and oppose efforts to use new springs, citing concerns about water scarcity.
In Cascade Locks, Nestlé is trying to tap 100 million gallons of water annually for its Arrowhead water brand from a new spring—and keep the environmentalists happy, too. A key is proving that water drawn from the spring—which supplies a hatchery that raises Idaho Sockeye, an endangered species—can be replaced with municipal well water, with no harm to the fish.
Nestlé is running a one-year test here to raise 700 rainbow trout in a tank filled with well water. Worried that activists might sabotage the test, Nestlé put the 1,700-gallon tank under lock and added security cameras. Officials from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife monitor the fish’s progress and are now autopsying the three that have died so far.
“We are accused of mining water, which would suggest we are depleting a resource,” says Kim Jeffrey, chief executive of Nestlé’s North American water business. “But instead, we take water in a sustainable way. The notion that we just take what we want is simply not factual.”…
[continues in the Wall Street Journal]