Nestle will bottle city water at new plant


Nestle is tapping into the Sonoran Desert's water supply, by building a massive bottling plant in Phoenix.

The company will spend $35 million turning a warehouse near 43rd Avenue and Buckeye Road into a facility which will bottle 35 million gallons of city water each year.

Nestle will hire between 40 and 50 people, and sell the water under its "Pure Life" brand in Arizona stores.

"It's ironic to put a water bottling plant in one of the driest cities in the country," Sandy Bahr of the Sierra Club said.

"It's crazy. I mean, we've been talking about shortages on the Colorado River, and Lake Mead just keeps dropping," she said.

This week, water levels in Lake Mead dropped to the lowest level in history.

Still, Nestle company officials say their plan to bottle Phoenix city water makes good business sense.

"It makes sense to bottle water because water has become the beverage of choice for health conscious people. Demand for bottled water in the greater Phoenix area has grown 10% in the past year, which trends with national growth," Jane Lazgin of Nestle said.

"Establishing a Phoenix facility reduces transportation miles for distribution from facilities in other parts of the western region and allows for faster, localized and more efficient service to our customers and consumers," she added.

City of Phoenix officials approved Nestle's plan and welcome the economic boost. They are not concerned about Nestle negatively impacting the city water supply.

"Phoenix's water supply is sound and sustainable as a result of multiple water sources and a logical, methodical approach to supply planning, infrastructure management, conservation, and drought preparation," Stephanie Bracken, with the City of Phoenix Water Services Department, said in a statement.

State officials echoed that sentiment.

"The 35 million gallons per year that the proposed Nestle plant is expected to use equates to 107 ac-ft per year. This volume is 0.035% of the total water used by the City of Phoenix in 2014," Michelle Moreno of the Arizona Department of Water Services said in a statement.

"Dividing 35 million gallons by Phoenix's water service area population of 1.5 million results in less than one-tenth of one gallon per person per day, or about one ounce per person per day," she added.

Nestle has operated a larger jug delivery facility in north Phoenix for decades.

The new plant will open in spring of 2017.

Copyright 2016 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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