WEED, California — A timber company is planning to take a drought-stricken small town’s water supply and sell it to a bottling company.
Roseburg Forest Products wants the town, Weed, California, to find another source of water so that the company can make a bigger profit. For 50 years, the town paid $1 a year for water from the spring the company owns.
“The corporate mentality is that they can make more money selling this water to Japan,” Weed City Council member Bob Hall told The New York Times. “We were hooked at the hip with this company for years. Now, they are taking advantage of people who can’t defend themselves.”
Weed’s water source, Beaughan Spring, is located on land owned by Roseburg Forest Products. Roseburg has decided not to renew the agreement that gives Weed access to the spring.
“The city needs to actively look for another source of water,” said Ellen Porter, Roseburg’s director of environmental affairs. “Roseburg is not in a position to guarantee the availability of that water for a long period of time.”
Water is Money
Roseburg sells the water to Crystal Geyser Alpine Spring, which has a bottling company in Weed, the newspaper reported. Crystal Geyser then ships the bottles elsewhere, including to Japan.
Crystal Geyser wants to increase its output.
In July, Roseburg began charging Weed’s city government $97,500 a year for water. The new contract says the town must find a new water source, The Times reported.
Pierre Papillaud, which owns the company that owns Crystal Geyser, actually came to Weed and threatened city officials, Mayor Ken Palfini alleged.
“He said if he didn’t get his way, he was going to blow up the bottling plant,” Palfini said. “He said that twice.”
Papillaud was so abusive that his son, Ronan, came to Weed and apologized for his father’s behavior.
David vs. Goliath
If Roseburg shuts Weed off from the spring, the town would have to pay $2 million to drill a well.
The situation could end up in court in a David-vs.-Goliath type of battle. Weed only has around 2,700 people.
“They are just corporations,” Palfini said of companies like Roseburg. “They are not your friend.”
Weed is not the only town to battle a company for water. As Off The Grid News recently reported, Nestle outbid the township of Centre Wellington, Ontario, for a well. Nestle plans to bottle that water and sell it.
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