In the case of Orland, California, a tiny town on Interstate 5 about 100 miles north of Sacramento, Crystal Geyser counted on dealing with a bunch of ignorant country hicks. Unbeknownst to most of the locals, they operated in secrecy under the guise of the consulting firm, MALCOLM PIRNIE. This firm was genius in getting all ducks in a row, to the point of getting a representative hired on with the local newspaper well in advance. In secrecy they convinced the local City Council members to put a expensive lift pump to handle the waste water to go to the city sewer. They wined and dined some local businesses with implications of promised work. They cozied up to adjacent landowners. They drilled a 24″ test well.
When they finally made their formal request for the City for the building permit, the word had “got out” and a group of us were already complaining to the City about the lack of transparency. When the proposal was submitted without the name of the company, the City rejected the application on the basis of “incomplete” because the company was not named on the application. This gave us a little time to loosely organize, and call ourselves SOWR for Save Our Water Resources. We were mostly farm / farm related , We enlisted help from an active environmental group, A local attorney/judge was in our group, as well as a former county supervisor.
When the City gave its OK for the project without a complete Environmental Impact Report, we filed suit against the City, and Crystal Geyser. Crystal Geyser had already agreed to pay any legal fees to the City. An environmental law firm from Sacramento took our case. SABRINA TELLER handled the case for us.
The ensuing ‘fight’ split our little town like the North vs the South. The rally cry was for JOBS, JOBS, JOBS. In reality, very few jobs would have gone to locals, as my husband and I went to other bottling plants, and in secret, watched the employees come and go at shift changes. They are so highly automated that very few employees are needed. In our case, even the clerical work would not have been local. CG had its own construction company which would have come in to do the initial construction—including the finish (tile) work.
The method is to begin under the guise of a ‘Mom and Pop’ little company. Then once it is up and running, no one can stop them from expanding. They lower the neighboring property values, then buy it up, then expand further. They have no intent to pay for additional sewer, county roads, etc. We went to CALISTOGA, where the company has an old plant. The roads in poor condition, due to the constant round the clock travel of the water trucks.
In my research, I found that the ‘mode of operation’ was pretty consistent with the other large water companies. We were lied to, and false hopes were given at heir “job fair” where local unemployed were filled with compliments and false hopes. (No one interviews potential employees even before the building has a permit)
I could ramble on all night, but a typist I’m not.
I love the Flathead Valley, and would not wish for a bottling plant if I were a resident there.
I moved out of Orland before Crystal Geyser announced it was leaving, but since I left, the people of Orland have had to ration water, and many, many wells have gone dry. They would have really been in trouble if the water bottling plant would have been built.
Good Luck, Dalene (Last name withheld)