For nearly a decade, Nestlé Waters has attempted to extract and bottle water from the publicly-owned Oxbow Springs in Hood River County, Oregon. The people of Hood River County defended their water by bringing together small businesses, farmers and orchardists, native people, and others to stop Nestlé. They formed a group called Local Water Alliance. The group then put together a ballot initiative that would permanently limit the amount of water that could be bottled in the county. On Tuesday, May 17, 2016, the 22,000 citizens of Hood River County passed the ballot initiative with an impressive 68 percent of the vote.
The initiative, pushed forward by a coalition of disparate actors, amends Hood River County’s Charter by prohibiting commercial bottled water production in Hood River County. The Water Protection Measure (Measure 14-55) is a common-sense way to protect the local water supply for use by local families, farms, and fisheries. The Water Protection Measure will stop the production of roughly 750 million plastic bottles annually. That’s an elimination of 6 percent of water bottle consumption in the United States. It also sets an important precedent for water protection across the U.S., and it builds the strength of an ever-growing movement of concerned people fighting water privatization all over the world.
The Story of Stuff community made a huge difference by supporting the creation of an online campaign video, Our Water, Our Future. The Story of Stuff Project is shifting the balance of power by bringing to light the stories of heroic citizens who are taking on Nestlé around the world. Following the passage of the county ordinance, the city of Cascade Locks challenged it claiming that city rights supersede county measures.
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