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Multinationals Exploit Groundwater Sources, and People Suffer

would provide a means to use the town's abundant renewable natural resource (spring water) to bring back jobs and economic stability to the community." But the companys contribution to the local economy in McCloud is questioned. For instance, in Mecosta County, Michigan, where Nestl opened a spring water bottling plant a few years ago, locals have yet to see the promised economic rewards.

"We've found that they mostly hire temp workers," says Donald Roy, who is involved with a citizen action group. "They pay many of them $10 an hour, no benefits, for a temp position, and then they can lay them off and not have to worry about compensation." Activists are worried that if Nestl does come to McCloud it will actually hurt the economy. The small town would see a huge influx of diesel trucks, about 400-600 trips a day, on its narrow country roads. And the effects on tourism could be detrimental. The facility alone, 1 million square feet, would be the largest building in Northern California -- dwarfing the town.

The McCloud River is one of the most beloved rivers in the state of California, explains Brian Stranko of the group California Trout, which works to protect the state's wild fish. "It is unique -- it doesn't matter if you like to fish or hike or walk -- it is a really pristine watershed of mixed conifers with amazing wildlife -- some of which is threatened or endangered."

The plant will also affect not just the McCloud River but an entire watershed, reducing stream flow to the McCloud River Falls, Squaw Creek, Soda Springs, Big Springs, Muir Springs and Mud Creek -- all places that are important to McCloud's heritage and its future. An estimated 77 percent of Northern California's water comes from that area -- so the impact on communities downstream, many of them agricultural, could be dire.

The bottling plant would also put fisheries at risk -- a resource that helps sustain many of the area's small business
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