The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation have joined the opposition to a proposed Nestle water-bottling facility at Cascade Locks. The tribes have treaty-protected fishing rights along the Columbia River.
“We’re concerned that it may affect water quality and water quantity as it relates to the fisheries resources,” said Chuck Sams, communications director for the Umatilla Tribes. He said the tribes are worried the bottling plant could harm the salmon fishery.
“And we don’t see any process by which that’s being addressed, nor are our treaty concerns being addressed.”
The state is considering a water rights transfer that would allow Nestle to bottle water in the Columbia Gorge.
The proposed bottling plant has met opposition in Oregon, including a group in Hood River County that plans to file for a 2016 ballot measure that could potentially prevent the facility.
Oregon is home to more than 30 water bottling plants, but this would be the first to use spring water owned by the state.
Calls and emails to Nestle weren’t immediately returned but the company has issued a statement in the past saying it’s concerned how drought affects people and it is committed to be a responsible steward of water resources.
The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation plan to meet with Governor Brown’s staff Wednesday to discuss their concerns about the proposed transfer.