As a council member with the city of Black Diamond, I want to clarify current Council’s actions regarding the Nestle Waters past proposal in our city and to address statements of council candidate William Saas, who is running for City Council Position No. 4. Mr. Saas stated in the voter pamphlet and on his Web page that “our city was recently in jeopardy of losing much of its pure spring water to a large corporation and most of our citizens were completely unaware.” The fact is the city was in a preliminary, fact-finding process with Nestle with permission only for Nestle to test the spring water source for both capacity and purity and to share those results with the city. The city remained in absolute control of its water and water rights and had no intention of selling its rights. The water itself could have been sold to Nestle just as it could be sold to any commercial customer who buys large quantities of water; whether a brewery, car wash, laundry, etc. Nestle chose to abandon the process before testing was completed and the city lost a free analysis of the condition and capabilities of that water source.
All council meetings, including those with Nestle issues on the agenda, are open to the public and are publicized in local papers, the city newsletter and on the city’s Web site. If people were not aware, it was not because the information was not made public. It is the duty of council members, when considering any development, to listen to all the facts, involve the citizens in public meetings, debate the issue among council members and mayor, then consider what is right for the city given the city vision, community impact and financial benefit to the city. On the financial side, the location of Nestle would have brought millions of dollars into our city with 45 manufacturing jobs, income to our water utility and a continuing stream of tax dollars that help provide the necessary services we enjoy. There were downsides, such as more traffic on state Route 169, the use of city of Tacoma water earlier than planned and the plastic bottle environmental issue.
Fifty-one percent of Black Diamond households are connected to water sources other than the springs. The council wanted to hear the positives and negatives of Nestle from all of our citizens, whether using spring water or not. There would have been numerous public meetings if the process had proceeded, allowing plenty of time to weigh the issues and hear citizens’ opinions. As Black Diamond expands with new homes and new businesses, the spring water will need to be mixed with water the city purchases from the city of Tacoma. At that point there could be no spring-only city water.
I applaud all the candidates for wanting to get involved in their city government. It is important to approach all potentials with an open mind and a willingness to do the fact-finding.
Black Diamond City Council
Position No. 3