Nestle Waters North America on Wednesday night withdrew its plan to extract 200,000 gallons of water per day from private land in Monroe County.
One of the nation’s largest beverage bottlers, Nestle Waters, wanted to build a site called Chestnut Springs, which would extract and truck water from Kunkletown, in Eldred Township, to its two plants in the Lehigh Valley, where it would be bottled as Deer Park water.
But at Wednesday’s Eldred Township supervisors meeting, Eric Andreus, a hydrogeologist for Nestle Waters, announced the company would withdraw its special exception zoning permit application, which was required for the project to be approved by the township’s zoning hearing board.
Andreus confirmed this morning that the withdrawal puts an end to the project and that the company does not have any plans to build a water extraction facility in the township or in any other area at this time.
“We are absolutely committed to developing new sources to support the growing business here in Pennsylvania,” Andreus said. “We are always looking for new potential spring water sources. We don’t have any that we are pursuing at this time.”
A number of factors go into any business decision the company makes, including long-term water source quality, community sentiment and its partnership with the source owner, he said.
“The multiple uses on the property created some design challenges and logistics challenges,” Andreus said. “The lack of community support was a factor and was taken into account.”
Andreus had been renting office space in the township’s community center as the Chestnut Springs proposal began in the township. He will be terminating the lease and moving out, he added.
“We have not been successful in gaining the same acceptance here in Eldred Township as we have in other communities that host our operations, and our partner in this effort has also expressed his reservations about moving forward,” Andreus said.
Some of the residents organized to challenge the proposal in Monroe County Court, citing concerns over the effects the water extraction would have on their community. Also, residents say township officials did not follow proper procedures during a 2014 zoning amendment vote that opened the door for Nestle.
Note: An article detailing the dispute over Nestle Waters’ project will appear in the June 13 print edition of Lehigh Valley Business – an edition that went to press before Nestle Waters announced it was scuttling its plan.