Oregonians protest Nestl's proposed bottle plant in Gorge

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Dozens of people ascended to Hawthorne Bridge in Portland Thursday morning to protest Nestl's proposed bottling plant at the Columbia River Gorge.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife last week applied to transfer part of its water rights at Oxbow Springs to the city of Cascade Locks, which would free up the area for Nestl to bottle water.

Nestl's plans to build the bottling plant have been stalled for years, while environmental groups protested and appealed the construction. Initially, the city of Cascade Locks had planned to exchange the water at Oxbrow Springs for city well water.

City leaders told Hood River News late last year they're pursuing a water transfer instead of an exchange, because it would be a "simpler process."

According to the organization "Keep Nestl Out," the transfer period would not require a formal public review by the Water Resources Department.

The proposed plant would employ 50 people and fill 100 million bottles annually.

Nestl's is facing national scrutiny after it was discovered the food and drink giant's permit to transport water across California's San Bernardino National Forest expired in 1988.