The Oregon Department of Water Resources is still considering a proposal by the City of Cascade Locks to transfer certain ODFW water rights to Nestle in order to open a bottling plant. The water rights currently support the Oxbow Fish Hatchery. If approved, the transfer would authorize ODFW to convey 225 gpm to the city. Then, the city is proposing to sell that water to Nestle for the bottling water plant. At six years in the making, this proposal has been very controversial. Further, the Department’s pending review comes at a time when 23 of Oregon’s 36 counties have been issued drought declarations and Cascade Lock’s unemployment rate is close to 19%, causing city officials to consider and weigh heavily the 50 potential jobs that could be created by this new plant. Environmental concerns have led to several petitions, and thousands of comments in opposition were submitted during the public comment period, which closed in May.
This summer, The Department plans to review the proposal and issue a preliminary determination, either in support of or against approval of the transfers. Whatever the result, it is likely that protests will be filed, and a contested case hearing could follow.