Protesters rally against proposed water bottling plant in Gorge

PORTLAND, Ore. - Demonstrators rallied at Terry Schrunk Plaza Tuesday afternoon against a proposed water bottling plant in the Columbia River Gorge.

The proposed facility is in Cascade locks. It would tap water from a spring now used by an Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife salmon and steelhead hatchery.

Protesters say they don't want water to be used for corporate profit. They've been fighting this for several years already.

They expect potentially hundreds of people at the rally as well as several speakers, including a woman who says she fought Nestle in her town in Michigan.

Organizers locally are led by a coalition called Keep Nestle Out of the Gorge. They are now calling on Gov. John Kitzhaber to put a stop to the proposed water bottling facility.

"Basically this time around he's heard from 30,000 Oregonians, and we've tried to meet with the governor and clearly it's time to show him that not taking a stance on this issue is really not an option and that's why we're ramping up the campaign by having actions like this," said Julia DeGraw with Food and Water Watch. "If you look at the potential damages that this water bottling facility could cause and even potential damage to the community's water source, we feel that's not a fair trade for the community or for Oregon. There are better jobs to be had."

Over a hundred protesters had gathered in the downtown Portland park. The demonstrators say they plan more rallies around the state.

In a statement, the president of the Port of Cascade Locks Board of Commissioners, Jess Groves, said, "We are deeply cautious of these outside groups who have decided to use our hometown to forward their national agendas. These groups rarely understand our town's economic needs or our long-standing commitment to water and environmental stewardship. The proposed Nestl waters plant, at full build out, would provide up to 50 new, well-paying jobs in cascade locks, which would add significantly to our employment base."