This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm
February 11th, 2007

Bottled Water

Fly Anglers OnLine lost a supporter recently. It is always hard to say goodbye to those we care about, even harder when the loss is unexpected. Jim Chapralis found us in 2002 when he was looking for places to publicize his first book, Fishing Passion. He became hooked, and stayed.

Jim provided FAOL with a wonderfully informative section on Casting including the rules for the various tournament events.

Jim's second book, Le Shack, was completed by his wife Sally, when his health prevented him from finishing it. Le Shack is delightful, watch for a review of it here soon.

This becomes a story within a story.

As Jim became involved again in tournament casting, this time in the Senior division, he found himself exposed to the problems facing the fishing world.

Once exposed, he became very involved and active in what is perhaps the most serious - and least understood. Water. The dangers in seeing prime headwaters sold to provide bottled water to a thirsty yuppy population. What did they drink before bottled water became 'in?'

The next time you are in your local supermarket, take a serious look at the number of bottled waters available. Where does this water come from? One of the battles Jim was involved in was against Perrier. This particular fight was over the Mecan Springs chain in central Wisconsin.

Perrier/Nestle eventually gave up on that one after they discovered the locals would rather preserve their environment than give it up for a few jobs.

Prior to the attempts for the Wisconsin water, Nestle secretly negotiated with Michigan government to build a bottling plant eight miles south of Big Rapids. The plant was completed and in production in May of 2002. One year later the plant was doubled in size. The bottled water is marketed under the Ice Mountain label.

Quoting from Jim's book, "The impact on the economy? Nestle received almost $10 million in incentives and school taxes were waived for 12 years. Amazingly, only as few as 45 employees are needed to operate a modern bottling plant. Again, since the water is free, it was estimated by experts that Nestle could gross between $500,000 and $1.8 million dollars a day. Repeat: A DAY!"

The money from the bottled water plants is incredible.

The good news is an injunction is in place and limits the amount of water Nestle can pump there subject to further tests and an Environmental Impact Statement.

Folks, these are just a couple examples of what can happen. Supposedly Nestle has about 30 pumping locations in the United States. The two examples I've shown do directly affect watersheds of trout streams. No water - no fish. Or so much water is extracted that it lowers stream levels, warming the water beyond what fish can tolerate.

I do not understand the 'need' for bottled water. Our cities and municipalities have excellent water treatment and distribution plants, we do not need bottled water. Convenient to carry with you? Fine, fill a water bottle and put it in the frig until you're ready to leave. Then take it with you. Probably tastes better anyway.

Removing water from the eco-system, selling it back to us just doesn't seem right. And what happens when the water runs out? That water should remain in the public trust, and not for "obscene" profits.

As Jim stated so well in his book, "water will become as important as oil is today. You don't need oil to survive but you need water."

Keep your eyes open, this could be happening near you, right now. ~ The LadyFisher

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