In 2013, Crystal Geyser purchased a 145,000-square-foot facility just outside Mount Shasta with the hopes of bottling and selling the mountain’s crystal-clear water. This week, following seven years of protests from local activists and members of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, the company announced it would be pulling out of its Mount Shasta plant.
It was a massive victory for local environmentalists and has sweeping economic implications for the region.
The opposition to the bottling plant included the concerns over its possible local water depletion, pollution and noise. The protests were mostly organized by “We Advocate Thorough Environmental Review,” otherwise known as WATER. The group challenged Crystal Geyser’s “fatally flawed” Environmental Impact Report (EIP) and continuously squared off against the company in court. The massive water company eventually gave up.
“This is really good news … that we’ve been able to successfully defend our neighborhood from inappropriate development,” said Bruce Hillman, a spokesperson for WATER, to Mt Shasta News.
Through the long process of reviewing the EIP, Crystal Geyser was met with numerous court appeals, opting to sell its real estate and move on from the area instead of continued litigation.
“The county Superior Court affirmed that the project had undergone a thorough and complete environmental review, ruling twice in our favor; yet appeals were filed and are currently in the appellate court,” said Crystal Geyser in a statement.
The news brings with it significant economic implications as it remains unknown who will purchase the building. It was previously used by Dannon and Coca-Cola, and has brought plenty of jobs to the area in the past.
“It’s unfortunate that an asset like this, which used to be a water bottling plant, could not get up and running despite a pretty lengthy process,” said District 2 Siskiyou County Supervisor Ed Valenzuela. “It cost a lot of time and money, for no gain.”
Crystal Geyser has been paying roughly $400,000 in Siskiyou County property taxes each year. The building was purchased it for $5.3 million in 2013 and is currently listed at a price of $8 million.
It remains to be seen who will occupy the bottling plant in the future. But they better be ready to deal with the local activists in Mount Shasta.