Letter to the editor: Save Shingletown’s Water

waterbottle

Citizens of Shasta County: Have you ever gone to Shingletown for a summer picnic, or fishing at one of the many lakes there? Have you ever driven up Hwy 44 through Shingletown on your way to cut a Christmas tree, or to visit Lassen Park? Are you a yearlong resident of Shingletown? A weekend visitor? Do you own a summer home there?

If so, the efforts of one private landowner might negatively affect your experiences in Shingletown in the future and for years to come. That private landowner doesn’t even live in Shingletown. He owns property there and he wants to profit off a natural resource that is vital to the community of Shingletown.

In November of 2008, a group of concerned Shingletown residents organized to halt an application by a private landowner for a use permit to transport spring water from the Shingletown area. The concerned citizens, led by Dick Rullman, formed a group and adopted the name “Local Water Stays Local.”

The private landowner’s use permit, if approved by Shasta County, would allow the transportation of 288,000 gallons of spring water per day, six days a week by tanker truck. The plan was to sell this Shingletown water to a water bottling plant off the mountain. The use permit was being considered by the county as a “Mitigated Negative Declaration” based on water studies submitted by the applicant. The studies were completed by a firm the landowner hired and paid for. The concerned residents felt that the applicant’s tests were flawed and that a full independent Environmental Impact Report (EIR) should be done to determine what effect this project would have on Shingletown’s water supplies and living conditions. The amount of water he wanted to extract is more than the majority of residents in Shingletown use per day.

That means more water than all the residents of the 13 primary housing developments, including the projected use of a new housing division, the 132-lot Mt. Lassen Woods subdivision on Hwy. 44. The water would be transported off the mountain by 48 tanker trucks a day, each hauling 6,000 gallons to a water bottling plant at an unknown location. This would actually put 96 tanker trucks per day on Highway 44 coming and going up and down the mountain. That means if you drove on Highway 44 through Shingletown, you would encounter a huge water truck either coming or going on this highway every 7 1/2 minutes. Imagine driving behind one of those trucks going up the hill. Imagine dealing with those trucks while driving in dangerous winter conditions in snow and ice.

While we did not know at the time who the distribution company was, we had a feeling that it was a large corporation. Our concern was to safeguard the availability of fresh water and clean air to the citizens of our community and to maintain the quality of life in our mountain town. We know that the water in Shingletown is not supplied by some huge spring with a never-ending supply of water. We know that the water is stored in fractured rock aquifers and some deeper underground aquifers. The area runs out of that stored water when there isn’t enough rain.

We know of Shingletown neighbors whose wells had dried up and some with very low water flows, and we know that daily extraction of that water will affect not just the families, but the environment. The springs and the creeks recharge our water systems by soaking into the ground as they travel on their natural route to the ocean. Local residents use the water on their land and it goes back into the ground. Removing the water for sale and bottling somewhere else removes the water from the mountain. It could impact the water that creates marshlands. It removes water that recharges the wells of the citizens who live in our community. Not only could this effect the immediate Shingletown area, but everyone down hill from the natural flow of the water out of these springs.

When “Local Water Stays Local” realized how serious this threat to our community was, we began an intenstive campaign. In a three-day period, our president, Dick Rullman, was able to gather 700 signatures from Shingletown residents. We submitted those petitions to Shasta county. Forty-two different citizens wrote letters to the county opposing the project. Money was raised by soliciting donations and by our group members attending local community events to inform our neighbors of our latest findings. A local marketing company named “Logarrow Marketing” was a great help to us in promoting our cause.

The money we raised from these grassroots efforts allowed our group to hire a hydrologist and an attorney. We retained the services of the same attorney from the San Francisco law firm that represented the people of McCloud in their fight against Nestlé. We submitted to Shasta County three expert rebuttals to the findings of the applicant’s experts. As a result of the hard work by “Local Water Stays Local” committee members, our group was able to convince the county that a full Environmental Impact Report was needed before they would approve the permit. 

“Local Water Stays Local” is now awaiting the next move by the applicant, who must resubmit his application under the terms of an Environmental Impact Report. Recently we were notified by a group in Sacramento known as “Save Our Water” that they had discovered documentation in their research while fighting Nestlé in Sacramento. They informed us that the unknown company who had originally wanted to bottle the water out of Shingletown in 2002 was none other than Nestlé Corporation. Nestlé makes billions of dollars each year from buying and bottling water.

The fight to save our water and our community is not over. Until we can get a measure on the ballot preventing the removal of water from its natural flow, this will be a threat. We are aligning ourselves with several groups in Northern California that are also fighting water battles in order to accomplish this. Water is the new oil and we know that in these hard times, the profit motive will continue to rear its ugly head, but we are determined to continue our fight and we encourage any interested community members to support us.

Visit our website at LocalWaterStaysLocal.org or contact us by mail at “Local Water Stays Local,” P.O. Box 342, Shingletown, CA. 96088. If you can, avoid drinking water out of plastic water bottles, and instead, invest in a good aluminum or stainless steel water container. And if you will, please boycott Nestlé products until they stop their attempts to exploit natural resources in small towns like ours.

Sincerely,

Patty Gomez, MSW 
Shingletown, CA

And

Dick Rullman, President 
Local Water Stays Local (LWSL) 
P. O. Box 342 
Shingletown, CA 96088 
Localwaterstayslocal.org 
Dickrullman@frontiernet.net
Phone (530) 474-1687
Fax (530) 474-5758

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3 Responses

  1. Avatar Richard Douse says:

    This is just one more example of something called, "Privatizing the Commons." Water is so basic to life that no private individual or corporation should control it.

    Water is no less important than the air we breath. Imagine for a moment if air issued only from certain holes in the ground. If someone on whose land one of these "holes" appeared, blocked it off, put a meter on it, and then sold it to us, we would rebel and rightly so. Air and water are basic. Only public agencies should manage them.

    In the case of selling bottled water, what is really being sold is oil. The major cost in bottled water is the bottles that are made of plastic that is made from oil. The value of water per bottle is minuscule. The water is simply one more way to induce us to trade our dollars for oil.

  2. Avatar Adrienne jacoby says:

    Thank you, anewcafe, for posting this informative information.

  3. Avatar r. richard says:

    i just stumbled onto this article and my blood pressure went up by 30 points!! i can remember when my parents first bought "the old cleland place" – quite a few years later – bear creek trading post. my dad always said the water was one of the most important things there and he protected the spring as if it was gold. and passed the word on when they sold bear creek. that water up there is the best in the world and i cannot believe the county would ever permit such a thing. remember when we had to have the water checked by the health department when they opened the restaurant – were told the water was perfect. nestles better stick with their candy – leave our water alone!!