Welcome To Your W.A.T.E.R.
Challenge to Crystal Geyser EIR goes to Court.
W.A.T.E.R. and the Winnemen Wintu Tribe’s lawsuit against the Crystal Geyser environmental impact report had its first day in court on May 10. Our lawyer Marsha Burch faced off against County attorney William Abbot and Crystal Geyser lawyer Barbara Brenner. Judge Karen Dixon heard explanations of our case arguments and rebuttals from the other side. Issues of the inadequacies of the EIR project description, AB 52 consideration of Tribal Cultural Resources, air quality and Health Risk Assessments, green house gas emissions, noise impacts, and the hydrology effects of large scale water pumping were all presented by Ms. Burch followed by rebuttals from opposition lawyers and questions from the Judge. We feel the hearing went well and our lawyer made an excellent presentation with powerful arguments. The Judge will probably make a case judgment some time in June. At the end of the hearing Judge Dixon thanked the members of the public attending for their interest and commented that the issues in the case are important and close to the heart of many in the community and she would consider the case carefully and base her ruling on a careful reading of the law. Our suit against the City of Mount Shasta’s approval of the waste treatment permit for Crystal Geyser will be also heard before Judge Dixon on June 7, 8:30am at the Yreka Courthouse
W.A.T.E.R. surrounds Crystal Geyser with pollution monitors.
W.A.T.E.R. has recently installed a set of air pollution monitors at various locations in the vicinity of the Crystal Geyser at north side of Mt. Shasta City. These devices use a new generation of laser particle counters that provide an accurate way to measure smoke, dust, diesel exhaust and other particulate air pollution. These monitors report continuous measurements of air particles between 0.3μm and 10μm diameter
The need for this monitoring is clear. The EIR sponsored by the County for the plant officially was instigated by the claimed need for a "caretaker's residence" located on CG property near its heavy diesel truck loading dock. Even that EIR, woefully deficient in most respects, declared the caretaker's residence would be unlivable due to diesel fumes. At 100 truck trips per day pulling in and out as well as idling there, the pollution will likely be equivalent to a bus station in a large city or a freeway truck stop. Combined with frequent temperature inversions in this area that trap airborne pollutants, the CG plant may be a major source of local unhealthy (and odoriferous) levels of air pollution. The EIR itself proposes no mitigation or even monitoring if this project were to start (similar to its lack of serious analysis and mitigations for other glaring problems such as groundwater water depletion, noise, sewer disposal, etc.). The County Air Pollution Control District Board (despite being a legally responsible agency) has likewise failed to do any study or issue any report on the air pollution matter. For these reasons, W.A.T.E.R. is establishing a data "baseline" now and (if CG actually opens) a continuous quantitative record of the pollution levels, for public information and possible protest and legal action. W.A.T.E.R. has enlisted the help of Ph.D. physicists and biochemists with experience in both meteorology and toxic environmental contaminants to oversee the gathering and scientific analysis of the data. For more information and to see real time map data of local particulate pollution see HERE.
W.A.T.E.R and Winnemem Wintu
Representives Interviewed on JPR
W.A.T.E.R. & Winnemem Wintu Tribe
Challenge Mt. Shasta City's
Crystal Geyser Sewer Permit in Opening Brief
W.A.T.E.R. (We Advocate Thorough Environmental Review) and the Winnemem Wintu Tribe (Tribe) continued the legal challenge to the proposed Crystal Geyser (CG) Water Bottling Plant Project (Project) at the base of Mount Shasta and filed an Opening Brief in Superior Court on March 29, 2019 challenging the City of Mount Shasta’s (City) approval of an Industrial Waste Discharge Permit (IWDP) for the proposed CG plant. This action broadens the community’s effort to protect the drinking water supply of local residents and the City of Mount Shasta and prevent harm to cultural resources important and sacred to the Tribe.
CG's water extraction business and plant is located on the southern slope of Mount Shasta, renowned for its magnificent vistas and fragile ecosystems. CG's business of extracting unlimited groundwater will create harmful environmental effects for the aquifer and the Sacramento River, a major water source for all California. Its huge bottling facility is adjacent to a small peaceful, residential neighborhood and upslope from pristine natural springs known to be significant to Winnemem Tribal culture and well within their traditional aboriginal territory.
The City could have refused to issue the IWDP but instead relied on the fatally flawed Siskiyou County led CG Environmental Impact Report (EIR) which violated major mandates of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the County's own land use plans and ordinances, and issued the permit. W.A.T.E.R. and the Tribe have already filed a brief in court contesting the County's refusal to limit CG extraction of groundwater and the County's faulty and inadequate review of water supply, water quality, traffic, noise, hazards and hazardous materials, air quality, climate change, aesthetics, light and glare, and land use.
Importantly, the City of Mount Shasta, who formally endorsed Assembly Joint Resolution AJR39 that memorialized the Winnemem Wintu's Historic status as a Recognized California Indian Tribe, did not make CEQA-required ‘independent findings’ regarding the environmental impacts of the IWDP nor regarding the Tribe's AB52 consultation, and did not take into account the adverse effects the permit would have on the Tribe's sacred and cultural values that were disregarded in the County EIR.
Even though the City consultants wrote extensive and critical comments for the CG EIR that were never withdrawn and the County never resolved the City's issues in the Final EIR, City Council approved an IWDP that was different from the draft circulated with the EIR, and failed to make independent findings regarding the applicable conclusions in the EIR.
In approving the IWDP, the Mt. Shasta City Council failed to issue required CEQA independent findings regarding the Project’s effects on the aquifer; did not address new chemicals and waste stream contents revealed in the IWD Permit that were not studied in the original EIR; and did no meaningful analysis of the new constituents as required by CEQA. Issues and concerns that the City itself raised in comments on the EIR, concerning the Projects effects on noise, traffic, aesthetics and light pollution were ignored by the Council. Finally the City Council ignored the direct and indirect effects on Winnemem TCRs from the IWDP and a CG connection to the City’s Waste Water Treatment Plant. Mt. Shasta City simply failed to live up to any of its obligations as a CEQA responsible agency. For all these reasons, the Petitioners requested that the Court issue a writ of mandate directing the City to vacate its approval of the IWDP.
The full Brief can be found at http://cawater.net/Documents/PetitionersOpeningBrief_City.pdf
Winnemem Wintu Tribe and W.A.T.E.R.
Challenge Crystal Geyser EIR in Opening Brief
Mt. Shasta, CA-- In Northern California, the Winnemem Wintu Tribe and the grassroots organization W.A.T.E.R. (We Advocate Thorough Environmental Review) filed an Opening Brief in Superior Court on February 22, continuing a six year community challenge to the flawed EIR for Crystal Geyer Water Company’s bottling plant project at the base of Mount Shasta.
The Crystal Geyser bottling facility project ("Project") Environmental Impact Report (EIR) was approved by Siskiyou County on December 12, 2017 without any upper limit on the amount of water CG may pump out of the ground and with a faulty and inadequate environmental review of water supply, water quality, traffic, noise, hazards and hazardous materials, air quality, climate change, aesthetics, light and glare, and land use. In doing so the County violated fundamental mandates of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and its own land use plans and ordinances.
The Project's significant environmental problems all stem from its location on the lower slopes of Mount Shasta, a major water source area for all of California, well known for its incredible beauty and extreme environmental sensitivity and within the historic aboriginal territory of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe. The massive bottling facility is adjacent to a quiet, residential neighborhood and upslope from pristine natural springs that are sacred and significant in Winnemem Tribal culture.
The Brief challenges the County's assertions that it cannot regulate any amounts of Crystal Geyser’s ground water extraction or the operation of the bottling facility. The County maintains that its only discretionary approval within their authority was a permit for a “caretaker’s residence.” The Brief maintains that the Project contains a misleading and unstable Project Description and impermissibly narrow project objectives and details how the EIR’s impacts analysis is totally insufficient.
The County violated AB52, a recently enacted amendment to CEQA, by not completing the required consultation and by not taking the Winnemem Wintu's cultural and sacred values into account. The County improperly imposed inapplicable standards of proof on the Tribe, and terminated the consultation because the process was delaying the Project's schedule, which is not a valid basis for termination. We maintain “The provisions added to CEQA are not aspirational.” And that “The County did not consult in good faith…”
By approving the faulty and inadequate EIR and not requiring Crystal Geyser to be accountable, Siskiyou County is set to give away a corporate subsidy worth mega-millions of dollars; exposing neighbors and possibly the City of Mount Shasta to pollution and groundwater depletion; and facilitating the damage and destruction of Tribal Cultural Resources sacred to the Winnemem Wintu Tribe. W.A.T.E.R. and the Tribe are committed to protect the water, our communities and the environment for our many future generations to come.
SEE the entire Brief at HERE at:
WHAT IS NEXT:
The County and Crystal Geyser will file an opposition brief due on March 29, we will file a reply due on April 17. The hearing in Superior Court in Yreka is scheduled for May 10 at 8:30 am with Judge Karen Dixon.
Posted January 2019
W.A.T.E.R. opposes Shasta Dam raising
W.A.T..E.R has submitted comments on the EIR Notice of Preparation for the raising of Shasta dam. We feel this project is harmful to both the environment and to the people of California. This project will further drown many sacred sites of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe after much of their tribal land was submerged by the original dam. This project will primarily profit a small handful of wealthy agribusiness owners in Southern California who grow almonds and other thirsty crops. Each almond requires a gallon of water, aggravating water scarcity issues in California caused by global warming.. Our comment states:
"There are many more cost effective ways to invest in increasing water supply such as desalination, groundwater restoration, water reclamation, fixing leaky infrastructure and conservation. The DEIR must consider that growing food in a desert area is not a good plan for the sustainable future, particularly when we are considering the predicted, and already present, issues of climate change.
With the proposed further raising of the Shasta Dam, Winnemem Wintu Tribal Cultural Territory is once again under attack. Previous marginalization of this culture does not justify or allow for further acceptance of the past abhorrent practices during the construction of the dam."
See our full comments document HERE
Posted October 2018
The Wheels of Justice Grind Slowly.
Our legal case challenging the County's approval of the fatally flawed Crystal Geyser EIR is slowly progressing through the court system. We are currently finishing up the "preparation of the administrative record" which collects and organizes the huge amount of paperwork, emails, letters and communications with Crystal Geyser, Analytical Environmental Services, Siskiyou County and Mount Shasta City around the CG EIR. This "administrative record" process alone has cost us over 15 thousand dollars! These outrageous legal fees are just one of the ways the system is rigged against citizen participation in challenging the "anything goes" status quo in this area. But with your help we are moving forward! We are now expecting to have our first hearings in February or March 2019. The good news is that CG has done no further work on the Mount Shasta plant since we have filed our appeal of the EIR.
WATER Releases 2017-18 Annual Report
Learn more about the accomplishments and strategies that we at W.A.T.E.R., along with your invaluable support, have put together to save and protect the environment of our region. Click on Image below to see the entire report.
Posted July 2018
Thanks to your efforts, we're making a really big difference in the fight for a healthy community this year.
W.A.T.E.R.’s two court cases continue to progress as we fight Crystal Geyser Water Company's potential operation. W.A.T.E.R. and the Winnemem Wintu Tribe are co-plaintiffs in the cases and we are working side by side to protect water, our communities and the environment. For more details you can see postings on our web site at cawater.net
The County case concerning the deficient Final EIR and lack of AB52 consultation was not settled out of court and will be heard in Siskiyou Superior Court in January 2019. We will keep you updated with the progress of this case. We are currently pouring over thousands of documents from the County, Crystal Geyser and Analytical Environmental Services disclosed in the preparation of the administrative record and through Public Record requests. The case against the City of Mt. Shasta is currently beginning mandated settlement discussions. We can’t say more about it due to the terms of confidentiality while in process. These two cases could potentially progress through the court system with approximately the same timing. We tried to combine the two lawsuits reducing strain on our court system and cost, but currently this has been rejected.
In a very promising development, the Winnemem Wintu have retained the Law firm of Fredericks, Peebles and Morgan, LLP to help in defending the Tribe’s rights under State law AB 52. Under AB 52, a project that may cause a substantial adverse change to a tribal cultural resource is defined as a project that may have a significant effect on the environment. Where a project may have a significant impact on a tribal cultural resource, the lead agency’s environmental document must discuss the impact and whether feasible alternatives or mitigation measures could avoid or substantially lessen the impact. The lawyers who helped craft the AB52 legislation are working directly with the Tribe and will be co-counsel with W.A.T.E.R.’s attorney, Marsha Burch.
Large crowd attends CPUC hearing
On June 8 Administrative Law Judge Robert Haga chaired a public hearing of the California Public Utilities Commission on the proposed Lassen substation project. Over 60 concerned citizens attended to hear and speak about this project. Most speakers objected to the expansion of the power lines feeding the Crystal Geyser plant and called for the undergrounding of these new lines that will march along the fields East of Old Stage Rd. Speakers also called on the CPUC to make Crystal Geyser, and not ratepayers, to pay for the power lines to the plant. The proposed expanded power lines will be much larger and taller than the existing power lines and will have a very significant detrimental visual impact on this gateway road to the historic Mount Shasta fish hatchery, the Sisson Museum, Lake Siskiyou and the roads into the Pacific Crest Trail region. Undergrounding this stretch of power lines will make a remarkable improvement of the views in this entire area. Expanding these power lines would also be in contradiction to City General Plan Measure OC-7, which states in part:
" Implementation Measure OC-7.1(d): Require undergrounding of all new utilities wherever practical. Encourage other agencies and entities to underground their facilities. Where undergrounding is impractical, aboveground lines shall be located to minimize impacts on sensitive scenic areas."
We hope that the CPUC will hear the serious concerns expressed at this hearing and put these lines underground and have Crystal Geyser pay its fair share.
W.A.T.E.R. Challenges City Permit for Crystal Geyser
Posted April 27, 2018
W.A.T.E.R. and the Winnemem Wintu Tribe petitioned the Superior Court of Siskiyou County for a Writ of Mandate (Petition) against the City of Mt. Shasta, challenging its March 26, 2018 split-vote approval of the Industrial Waste Discharge Permit for Crystal Geyser Water Company and challenging the City's conclusion that the project was adequately considered in the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) prepared by the Lead Agency, Siskiyou County. The Petition contends that these actions of the City are in violation of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). According to an indemnification clause of the permit application, Crystal Geyser Water Company will be responsible for covering all legal and staff cost incurred by the City to address the Petition.
The Petition alleges that in approving the permit, the City abused its discretionary powers in violation of CEQA by relying upon an EIR that fails to include information necessary for informed decision-making and informed public participation, and in failing to adopt feasible mitigation measures within its jurisdiction. The validity of the EIR has been challenged in a separate case filed against Siskiyou County.
During the County’s administrative review process of the Crystal Geyser operations and the EIR, the City itself had submitted well-considered and detailed comments strongly objecting to numerous hazards of the project including excessive noise, lighting, traffic, improper wastewater disposal and possible inadequate ground water supplies. Subsequently, the City decided to not challenge the EIR in court, but nonetheless continued to maintain its objections raised in its previous comments on the Draft EIR. These valid issues raised by the City, and also by many other citizens and experts, were barely addressed and never resolved by the County. Despite the City’s knowledge that the EIR was potentially insufficient, the City conducted minimal reviews during its consideration of the wastewater Permit, and did not make formal “CEQA Findings” as required by CEQA law. Approval of the Permit without the required Responsible Agency findings thus violated CEQA.
The Petition further alleges that the approved Permit (a revision of the draft Permit evaluated in the EIR) includes additional waste streams that were not evaluated in the EIR process. Although Crystal Geyser had informed the City of its intention to seek the inclusion of additional waste streams long before the completion of the Draft EIR by the County, the City took no action as a Responsible Agency to include these known potential waste streams into the EIR’s analysis. In addition, the Permit allows for significant delay in requiring the necessary improvements to the City’s wastewater system, and this will result in impacts to the environment. The City failed to evaluate these impacts and failed to prepare supplemental CEQA documentation in order to support its decision to approve the permit.
The Petition further alleges that the EIR is faulty because Siskiyou County failed to complete required AB52 consultation with the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, and as a result, the EIR cannot support the City’s conclusions in its role as a Responsible Agency.
Finally, the Petition asserts the City failed to make formal CEQA Findings, and the one-sentence statement in the Resolution adopted to approve the Permit was insufficient to be considered the “CEQA Findings” to support the City’s approval.
W.A.T.E.R. representative Geneva Omann stated,
"If this bottling plant is going to be operating here, we want ALL of its effluent to go to the City wastewater treatment plant, but at the very least, the permitting and operations of the bottling plant and the waste water treatment plant must be in compliance with CEQA. Currently they are not. We are challenging the Permit approval to ensure the wastewater treatment plant, the environment, the Winnemem Wintu’s Traditional Cultural Resources, and City residents are all protected from potential adverse effects of the bottling plant. We are proud to stand with our brothers and sisters of the Winnemem Wintu in defending Water and our community.”
Winnemem Wintu Tribal Representatives, Mark Miyoshi and Luisa Navejas stated,
"The Winnemem Wintu were born from the pristine water of Mount Shasta and regard this water as a sacred relative, a living being that is being exploited, desecrated and polluted when it is put in a plastic bottle and commoditized. When we stand up for the life of the water from this Mountain that flows throughout the Tribe's traditional territory and becomes the mighty Sacramento and McCloud Rivers, we are defending the life of all free flowing streams and rivers and ultimately the precious life of our great Mother Ocean. All voices matter as the value of water is the value of life itself.”
W.A.T.E.R. Challenges CG EIR
posted January 12, 2018
On December 12, 2017 the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors certified the flawed and incomplete Environmental Impact Report (EIR) of the Crystal Geyser beverage bottling project in Mount Shasta, CA. On January 11, 2018 We Advocate Thorough Environmental Review (W.A.T.E.R.) and the Winnemem Wintu Tribe jointly filed a Petition for a Writ of Mandate (Case SCCV-CVPT-2018-41-4) in Siskiyou County Superior Court to require Siskiyou County to “to set aside their approval of the Project and certification of the EIR.”
The Petition states: “In approving the Project as described herein, Respondent County prejudicially abused its discretion in violation of CEQA … because the County certified an EIR that fails to include information necessary for informed decision making and informed public participation, including information necessary to reach informed conclusions regarding the significance of the Project’s environmental impacts, the effectiveness of mitigation measures to avoid the Project’s significant environmental impacts, or feasibility of mitigation measures to reduce the Project’s significant environmental impacts; because the EIR fails to lawfully assess the Project’s cumulative effects; because the EIR fails to use the best available information and/or accepted methodology for analyzing information; because the Final EIR fails to provide good faith responses to comments on the Draft EIR; because the County failed and refused to provide a stable, finite Project description by obscuring the fact that the only authority the County has over any aspect of Crystal Geyser’s activities relates to the caretaker’s residence Permit only; because, with respect to the findings required by CEQA, the County failed to make required findings, failed to support the findings with substantial evidence, and failed to disclose the analytic route showing how the evidence supports the findings.” (paragraph 36)
The Petition also argues that the County failed to complete AB52 consultation with the Winnemem Wintu Tribe. The Petition states: “In addition to improper termination of the consultation, the deficiencies of the Project description did not allow meaningful and comprehensive AB 52 consultation because there is no upper limit on the volume of water that will be extracted by Crystal Geyser, and the County asserts that it has no authority to limit the extraction amounts. Only after the Project description is corrected will the Tribe and the County be able to consult on the significance of adverse effects, mitigation measures and/or Project alternatives.” (paragraph 44)
Moreover the Petition alleges that the EIR includes impermissibly narrow project objectives, specifically “meeting market demand”, without ever explaining the urgency of such demands. The vague ‘objective‘ to assist Crystal Geyser in raising its bottom line is not an appropriate basis for dismissing feasible alternatives that would reduce the Project’s impacts. The Petition also explains how impacts on hydrology and ground water were incorrectly modeled. These “estimations” from modeling would be completely dependent on the specific groundwater pumping, which the County approved with no caps or regulation. The EIR’s impacts analysis is also deficient on numerous issues including air quality and associated health risks, aesthetics, noise, lighting, green house gas emissions and traffic. You can see the complete Petition at: http://cawater.net/Documents/Petition4WritMandate.pdf for more information.
For over four years W.A.T.E.R. and many others have been fighting for an effective EIR on the Crystal Geyser project. For over two of those years, the County argued that NO EIR at all would be required. When finally confronted with the fact that the facility would not be able to obtain any of its needed permits for wastewater treatment or air quality without an EIR, the County produced an EIR filled with errors and omissions. W.A.T.E.R. in conjunction with the Winnemem Wintu Tribe is dedicated to fighting to ensure that if this project is to continue it MUST NOT damage our wonderful mountain environment. We have been inspired by the outpouring of support on this issue from our Community both local and throughout the country, from the hundreds of comments submitted during the EIR hearings to the generous donations to our fundraising. We have raised tens of thousands of dollars from our many supporters and have received generous grant donations from Patagonia, Lush Cosmetics’ Charity Pot, the Rose Foundation, RESIST, The Story of Stuff and the Patricia L. Kimball and David T. Kimball Fund. These funds make our legal efforts possible.
Board of Supervisors Approves CG EIR
posted Dec. 16, 2017
On December 12th the Board of Supervisors certified a flawed and misguided EIR, despite the known issues of air quality, green house gas emissions, groundwater pollution and aquifer capacity. A staff report from Analytical Environmental Services' representative Ryan Sawyer and the County's contract planner, Sally Zeff of the consulting firm ICF, contained no new data nor mitigations and contained mainly "handwaving" arguments as a substitute. Although W.A.T.E.R. members and W.A.T.E.R.'s experts provided highly detailed and technical analyses of the FEIR's flaws, these were essentially ignored by the BOS, County Staff, and the county's consulting firms in their drive to approve the project.
Supervisor Valenzuela made a statement and moved to certify the FEIR, adopt the Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Program, approve the caretaker's residence permit, and deny the Appeal of the Planning Commission's approvals put forward by W.A.T.E.R., the Gateway Neighborhood Association and the Winnemem Wintu Tribe. There was no further Board discussion. W.A.T.E.R. will be looking into every means to continue to defend the many outstanding issues and work for a legitimate FEIR. We will fight on.
Supervisors Delay Crystal Geyser Decision
posted Nov. 20, 2017
On Thursday, November 16 the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors held a hearing on the appeal filed by W.A.T.E.R., the Gateway Neighborhood Association and the Winnemem Wintu Tribe by our attorney, Marsha Burch, challenging the approval of the Crystal Geyser EIR. The Board of Supervisors and county counsel heard presentations from 9AM to 5PM given by County Staff, Crystal Geyser representatives, our lawyer Marsha Burch, consultants, both supportive and critical of the current EIR, and numerous public comments. At the conclusion of this long day the Board voted to continue the item to December 12th at 1:30 p.m. after closing the public hearing so no further comments will be taken. The many powerful arguments given by our lawyer Marsha Burch caused the Supervisors to delay a decision until they could study the issues further. They requested that staff return prepared to answer their questions on several key aspects of the project. Crystal Geyser executives and representatives appeared to be surprised by the delay.
Marsha Burch, arguing for the appeal, outlined how the mitigation measures put forth in the EIR were not enforceable as required by CEQA, since the only authority the County claims over the project is the permit for a “caretaker’s residence” which is not event habitable full time because of pollution amounts at the plant site. She also argued that The County failed to complete consultation with the Winnemem Wintu Tribe under AB52 and the EIR contains an inaccurate project description. Marsha explained that the EIR includes impermissibly narrow project objectives, specifically “meeting market demand”, without ever explaining the urgency of such demands. Marsha wrote in her appeal letter: “The vague ‘objective‘ to assist Crystal Geyser in raising its bottom line is not an appropriate basis for dismissing feasible alternatives that would reduce the Project’s impacts”. Marsha and Dan Axelrod also explained how impacts on hydrology and ground water were incorrectly modeled and would be dependent on the amount of unregulated groundwater pumping. She concluded by establishing how the EIR’s impacts analysis is deficient on numerous issues including air quality and associated health risks, aesthetics, noise, lighting, green house gas emissions and traffic. You can see the complete appeal submission HERE for more details.
Most speakers during public comments were in favor of the Appeal and opposed approval of the flawed EIR. They addressed concerns over effects on local wells, poorly conducted hydrology studies, inadequate noise, air quality and traffic studies, plastic pollution, green house gas emissions and aesthetics. Eleanor Kennedy, owner of Cold Creek Inn, described observing changes in tourism over the years from hunting and fishing to eco and spiritual tourism and how this project could negatively impact business with its increase in traffic, noise, light and both air and groundwater pollution.
W.A.T.E.R. urges the community to stay vigilant and involved. We will notify you about details of the December 12 meeting as they become available. Our activism has so far resulted in a few good changes in the EIR around nighttime truck traffic and plant noise, but much more needs to be done.
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Crystal Geyser EIR appeal goes to
Board of Supervisors November 16
The hearing date for appeal of the County Planning Commission's approval for the Crystal Geyser project is set for Thursday, Nov 16th at 9am, Miner’s Inn in Yreka. This appeal has been jointly filed by W.A.T.E.R., the Gateway Neighborhood Association and the Winnemem Wintu Tribe. Our lawyer, Marsha Burch, has filed an appeal document that details our many concerns. (See it HERE)
We understand that public comments will be allowed.
In order to make our comments effective and accurate we are planning an
Informational meeting on
Tuesday November 14, 7PM
at the Mount Shasta City Library
to offer ideas and answer questions about comments to the Board at the hearing on Thursday. Please try to attend the Tuesday meeting if you want to speak on Thursday.
Please plan to attend the hearing to show your support:
Board of Supervisors Special Appeal Hearing
Thursday, Nov. 16th at 9am
Miner’s Inn Convention Center in Yreka
Posted September 26, 2017
City Council Sells Out to Crystal Geyser!
On Monday September 25, reversing their previous 5-0 decision objecting to the Final Environmental Impact Report as it stood, the Mt. Shasta City Council, in a 3-1 vote (Barbara Wagner opposed and the Mayor absent) decided to not challenge the FIER or to appeal the upcoming Planning Commission certification. They will not delay the project in any way. In the room were the conservative business people, a Crystal Geyser representative, Siskiyou Economic Development and Board of Supervisor Ed Valenzuela. It seems they all knew what would be happening at the meeting while the public was left out. The Crystal Geyser project was not specifically mentioned on the agenda, nor was it “noticed” that there would be any “actionable” item. It appears that City Manager Bruce Pope was blindsided as well. In the meeting, Tim Stearns stated that he negotiated with the County and Crystal Geyser and the City’s questions and issues are ‘taken care of’. But the issue is: this was done behind closed doors and the public has not seen anything in writing from the County or Crystal Geyser!
So the City of Mt. Shasta will not be opposing the seriously flawed FEIR or appealing the County certification. We are left with the question, will the City do anything to protect our citizens and environment from damages of the project? It will now be up to the Community, W.A.T.E.R. and the Gateway Neighborhood Association to move forward and stand for those protections.
We await the decision at the Planning Commission hearing, Wed. the 27th at noon, Miner’s Inn, Yreka. We encourage the public to attend, although there will be no opportunity for public comment.
Posted September 12, 2017
Siskiyou County releases a flawed Final EIR
On Friday, September 8th, Siskiyou County released to the public its Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) on the Crystal Geyser bottling plant project. Even a brief examination of the 64 pdf documents that comprise the FEIR shows that almost all of the concerns and objections of the over 150 comments submitted on the Draft EIR were inappropriately deemed to be wrong, without merit, or misconceived and given no serious response. Where a few comments were found to be “with merit,” changes were made but without an analysis of the original flaws in the Draft EIR, merely stating that these changes make the issues raised “no longer relevant.” This treatment of public comment violates the CEQA Guidelines that mandate responses are to be "addressed in detail giving reasons why specific comments and suggestions were not accepted." The FEIR found that no mitigations of any sort were needed on issues of air quality, traffic effects, visual aesthetics, aquifer protection, water quality, plastic pollution or hours of operation. In addition, several mitigations from the original DEIR were modified to be less stringent.
Water issues not addressed
The community-wide concern about water and the health and sustainability of the local aquifer was a large portion of the public comments submitted. The FEIR continues to declare that these concerns have no merit. Concrete testimonials from homeowners about actual well issues while Danone/Coca Cola operated the plant were dismissed as “anecdotal.” No mitigations, restrictions on pumping or safeguards for neighboring domestic wells are proposed in the FEIR. Unfortunately, the FEIR contains many unsubstantiated assumptions and biases in the theoretical models used to argue that neighboring wells would not be impacted. Because of past homeowner well issues, we continue to insist that only by directly monitoring homeowner wells during any and all hydro-geologic testing and during plant operation can these effects be realistically determined, monitored and mitigated.
Waste water treatment
The FEIR eliminates wastewater disposal Option 4, which would have allowed the disposal of on-site treated effluent via irrigation of the surrounding land. However, the FEIR still proposes Option 3, to release to the on-site leach field the industrial process and rinse wastewater from production of flavored sparkling water without any pre-treatment other than pH adjustment. This untreated effluent, containing cleaning agents, boiler discharge, cooling tank discharge, floor wash, filter backwash and equipment rinse, would percolate into our shared and pure groundwater aquifer. This option is not acceptable under any circumstances. In the DEIR, wastewater disposal options that would send industrial wastewater to the Mt. Shasta City wastewater treatment plant were capped at a maximum of 24,000 gallons per day. The FEIR now says a maximum of 50,000 gallons per day will be allowed under certain conditions. Why is there now a softening of the cap to allow doubling of the allowed daily maximum?
Whereas the DEIR indicated that noise from truck traffic was a significant but unavoidable impact, the FEIR declares that truck traffic noise is a less than significant impact. Was this reduction in impact level because there was a reduction in truck traffic or a reduction in the noisiness of the trucks? No, it appears to have been done by taking background noise levels nearer the train tracks, so the baseline noise level would be higher, and shifting night time truck trips to the daytime, which lowers the estimate for truck noise levels (due to the way the average of day- and night-time noise is calculated). The result is that the calculation of the estimated noise appears to be less without actually reducing the total traffic noise nearby homeowners will experience. This manipulation of noise calculations violates CEQA Guidelines that require responses to public comment be in "good faith." The FEIR did reduce the hours of truck loading operations to be from 7am to 10pm. While this is a much-needed change to the project, it was added with no mention of the DIER’s obviously flawed analysis that predicted no significant nighttime disturbance of residents by truck traffic.
The issue of plastic pollution is whitewashed by claiming that no plastic is manufactured at the plant. Although the FEIR does not say how many bottles per day the plant will produce, conservative estimates based on amounts of water to be bottled indicate the plant could be processing a million or more PET bottles a day. This is a significant pollution threat! Although Crystal Geyser is expecting the consumer to be responsible for recycling their PET bottles, they are committing to only a 50% recycling rate of solid waste at the plant, reduced from 75% originally stated in the DEIR. Why the reduced commitment to recycling at their own plant?
Flaws in modeling
The FEIR contains many other major flaws, including errors in statements of fact, unsupported conclusions, and unsubstantiated choices of modeling procedures, all issues we are continuing to study. The limitations of the modeling programs used can be seen in the analysis done in the Draft EIR on noise from plant HVAC and manufacturing cooling systems. After numerous public comments noting the flaws and biased assumptions, the EIR authors did actual noise testing of the equipment systems and found that there were significant noise problems with the plant equipment, in direct contradiction to their previous modeling assumptions that found no significant noise effects. These new findings require stronger mitigations to lower noise emissions.
In Comments on the DEIR, W.A.T.E.R., the Gateway Neighborhood Association, lawyers, experts and many others called for the Draft EIR to be re-circulated to address many of the faults and omissions found in the draft. We again call for recirculation of the revised DEIR. The FEIR includes significant new data, analyses and alteration of conclusions, including new noise tests and calculations, a new pump test on their Domestic well #1, well pumping with accompanied hydro-geologic studies, new pavement impact studies, new green house gas calculations and additional information on chemicals used in manufacturing systems. CEQA requires recirculation of the DEIR when significant new information is added to the FEIR, otherwise there will be no opportunity for thorough review by the public. We request that the County recirculate the revised EIR and a new comment period be implemented! Only with this procedure can the public fully understand the accuracy and completeness of the new studies and information supplied in the FEIR.
We continue to study the entire FEIR for more issues and problems and will bring them to the County Planning Commission public hearing tentatively scheduled for September 20, at the Miner’s Inn in Yreka at 9 am. W.A.T.E.R. encourages all of the concerned public to attend this hearing and voice their concerns about the many flaws and omissions still in the FEIR.
FEIR Documents can be found on the County web site:
(at bottom, beginning on tab 6)
Posted July 22, 2017
Critical Examination of a Crystal Geyser Economic Study
To gain further understanding of the real costs of a bottling plant in our community, W.A.T.E.R. commissioned Noah Enelow, Ph.D, senior economist, Ecotrust, Portland, Oregon to provide a an analysis of the economic effects of the Crystal Geyser plant. You can see the report <HERE>
Over a year ago, in March, 2016, an Arizona consulting firm, Applied Economics released a report titled Economic Impacts of Crystal Geyser on Siskiyou County, California, (AE Study). Shortly thereafter, March 30, 2016, the CEO of Crystal Geyser Water Company (CGWC), Yasu Iwamoto, in a guest opinion column, sited this study as an independent economic analysis. These reports are expensive and someone with a vested interest in the plant had to pay for the report. Why not say who? And on May 4, 2016, a corporate public relations advertisement was placed in the paper using the report to taut much-exaggerated potential economic gains.
The AE Study uses inaccurate and inflated assumptions including those concerning wages. Why not use actual figures, which are much lower? Will the jobs be full time with benefits or will CG be hiring part time employees or use a staffing service through an employment agency? Will there be an additional 1.4 jobs for every CGWC job created as their advertising claims?
The report provided no example of where a water bottling plant has helped a community economically. Again, why use ambiguous and questionable assumptions as to the effects CG will have on our county when it could use actual examples of the CG Roxane plant in Weed and CG plant in Olancha Point, CA? Probably because there is no benefit to a corporation extracting water for free and not being responsible for its costly negative impacts on the community and environment - which can include waste water treatment, damaged roads, heavy truck traffic, visual blight, and air, water, and noise pollution. Small businesses, property values, and tourism can be damaged by all of these factors as well as causing a decline in quality of life and health. (128)
Just as the community has strongly questioned the draft EIR with more than 150 submitted comments, the We Advocate Thorough Environmental Review (WATER) group and many other residents of Siskiyou County question many of the assumptions and claims made by the AE Study.
To gain further understanding, WATER commissioned Noah Enelow, Ph.D, senior economist, Ecotrust, Portland, Oregon to provide a critical examination of the AE study. He commented on many aspects of the report and concluded that “Crystal Geyser's promises of jobs and economic revitalization cannot be taken at face value. Its leading economic study is riddled with errors, omissions, and questionable assumptions; and it has failed to take account of the economic costs of the project's environmental impacts...the benefits claimed by the AE study are almost certainly overstated; and the costs to private and public property, health, and the natural environment are ignored.”
Noah Enelow states the AE Study “is not a good guide to decision-making around the proposed plant.” W.A.T.E.R. secured this critique and in addition has demanded a full EIR so that our public officials will make an informed decision that will protect their constituents, our community, and our environment. As elected officials, that is their responsibility. Once an international corporation establishes itself in a community, local control of its practices is lost.
Posted June 28, 2017
W.A.T.E.R. and the Gateway Neighborhood Association, six hired experts, two attorneys, the City of Mt. Shasta and 150 community members put in smart and exacting comments related to the Crystal Geyser Water Company proposal to open a bottling plant in town. The comments showed the many deficiencies that were found in the Draft EIR (DEIR) on the Crystal Geyser bottling plant. However the County has chosen to not resubmit a new DEIR to the public, but we have have been told that a Final EIR will be released in August of 2017 for the Siskiyou County Planning Commissions recommendations and then it will go the Board of Supervisors for approval. We will need to be at these meetings to make sure the truth about Crystal Geyser's environmental impacts is heard. Sign up for our newsletter to get the latest news! (<--- Link at left)
We are in the process of insuring our hired experts and attorneys are available for the work necessary to continue the fight to safeguard our local water sources, community and surround neighborhood who rely on our pure water. Crystal Geyser admits in the DEIR that they plan to pollute the local groundwater by using the leach field to dump their effluent, rather than using the Mt. Shasta wastewater treatment plant.
We are planning on fighting this, every step of the way and we need your help to do so. We are submitting grants to help raise funds. But we also need your help! We must raise an additional $35,000-$45,000 in order to pay for attorney and expert expenses. See our PayPal donation button on the upper left of this page. It’s continuing to be a long fight but the plant is still not open so we are hopeful to force the company to do the right thing by our community or they can go away.
Posted March 28, 2017
Thank You Mount Shasta !
A big Thank You to everyone who wrote comments, attended meetings and contributed funds to this effort to have a real and effective EIR for Crystal Geyser.
Community Comments on the Crystal Geyser EIR
An amazing 150 comments were submitted to the County commenting on the Crystal Geyser draft EIR. The draft EIR was a poorly written and inadequate document that overlooked many of the harmful effects that this plant will cause. Concerned community members pointed this out again and again in an outpouring of thoughtful and well researched comments. The City of Mount Shasta held two meetings to discuss the City's response, and adopted a much stronger statement after numerous comments received from the public. W.A.T.E.R. and the Gateway Neighborhood Association (GNA) also hired lawyers and expert consultants to forcefully respond to the legal and technical issues around this draft EIR.
See the entire list of comments submitted HERE
Links to specific comments:
GNA attorney Marcia Burch
W.A.T.E.R. attorney Don Mooney
Hydrogeologic expert Tim Parker, Parker Groundwater
Traffic expert Tom Brohard, Brohard and Associates
Waste water treatment expert Peter Martin
Air Quality expert Greg Gilbert, Autumn Wind Associates
Noise expert Geoffrey Hornek
Comments by the City of Mount Shasta
The Real Crystal Geyser Project Revealed
The comment period for the Crystal Geyser Plant Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) is now complete. If you look at what Crystal Geyser disclosed during this process, you will notice that the project is much larger and its impact on both the environment and our community is much greater than what the company originally told the public, the City, our County Supervisor and the Chamber of Commerce at the community meeting on March 24th, 2014.
The Gateway Neighborhood Association (GNA) and W.A.T.E.R. fought hard to get a full EIR because we knew that the public was not being told the truth. Here are a few project changes, undisclosed to the public until the DEIR:
W.A.T.E.R. receives a $20,000 grant!
W.A.T.E.R. has received a generous grant from LUSH Handmade Cosmetic's Charity Pot non-profit funding effort. Charity Pot looks for projects that create long-term systematic change and address the root cause of the problem, which aim to alter opinion and behavior through raising awareness of issues, activism, education and campaigning. This grant helped us pay for the attorneys and environmental experts comments on the Crystal Geyser EIR. Thank you Lush Cosmetics!
W.A.T.E.R. educational meeting
on the Crystal Geyser DEIR
Thursday, February 9, 2017 at 6pm
Mt. Shasta Library
515 Alma Street, Mt.Shasta, CA
This meeting will help define all the areas of the document that are of serious concern, and ask you to review the DEIR and send in your comments to the County. We will have a handout with links to our County Supervisors, Planning Commissioner contacts, the newspaper (for letters to the editor) and how to mail in your own personal comments.
Please let your friends and neighbors know about this opportunity to see and discuss the plans that Crystal Geyser has for its business and our community.
Tips on how to make effective EIR comments can be found HERE
Access the Draft EIR documents themselves HERE
Crystal Geyser draft EIR released by Siskiyou County.
Posted January 14,2017
The draft Environmental Impact Report on the Cyrstal Geyser project has been released by the County. The entire report can be downloaded at the County project web site HERE. Scroll to the bottom of the page to see the files. This is a lot of stuff to read, pick the area you are concerned about and please study. We are now going over these finding carefully and forwarding to our consultants and lawyers. W.A.T.E.R. is planning to have a community forum soon to go over these reports and discuss the findings and how we should respond.
See "History" tab for earlier postings
Welcome and thank you for checking out our website!
We Advocate Thorough Environmental Review (W.A.T.E.R.) is a group of Mt. Shasta area citizens who are concerned about maintaining a healthy environment and a desirable and sustainable community for future generations.
W.A.T.E.R.’s mission includes:
monitoring various development project applications
educating the public about environmental issues of local importance
support other local agencies in similar goals
W.A.T.E.R. has a State of California 501(c)3 non-profit status.
Members of the public are welcome to join us. We respect all viewpoints and welcome open and honest discussions.
Our community is what we make of it.