Crystal Geyser "becomes aware" of need for EIR!
We Advocate Thorough Environmental Review (W.A.T.E.R.) welcomes Crystal Geyser’s announcement that it has finally “become aware” of the need for an Environmental Impact Report, as deemed necessary per the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). On September 16th Crystal Geyser’s PR firm, Burson-Marsteller, sent out a press release stating: ”…Crystal Geyser Water Company has become aware that our state-of-the-art bottling facility in Mt. Shasta will require a permit from the Siskiyou County Air Pollution Control District (APCD). In an effort to be completely transparent with the community we have decided to move forward with APCD in the preparation of an Environmental Impact Report (EIR). By preparing this EIR, we will be able to analyze all potential impacts of the plant operations in Mt. Shasta.” W.A.T.E.R.notes that this statement was released by Crystal Geyser only weeks after W.A.T.E.R. filed a lawsuit challenging the County zoning and ground water permitting of the beverage plant. (FINAL COMPLAINT)
For over two years there has been a widespread outpouring of community support for an EIR on Crystal Geyser’s beverage bottling facility. From the beginning Siskiyou County officials and Crystal Geyser insisted that an EIR was not needed. However, Crystal Geyser must now obtain a discretionary permit from the Siskiyou County Air Pollution Control District (APCD) which requires that the APCD prepare and certify an environmental document in order to comply with CEQA. W.A.T.E.R. has long suspected that Crystal Geyser has delayed obtaining permits such as for planned electrical power upgrades and industrial sewage hookups to avoid an EIR before the planned partial opening of its beverage bottling plant in the fall of 2015.
Questions remain, however, as to which public agency should serve as the Lead Agency for the preparation and review of the EIR. According to CEQA a Lead Agency “is the public agency that has the primary responsibility for approving a project that may have a significant impact upon the environment.” Furthermore, CEQA clarifies that “The Lead Agency will normally be the agency with general governmental powers, such as a city or county, rather than an agency with a single or limited purpose such as an air pollution control district or a district which will provide a public service or public utility to the project.” CEQA also requires that the EIR address the entire project.
W.A.T.E.R. is concerned that the APCD will have neither the expertise nor the enforcement capabilities to conduct a thorough and effective EIR. When the previous owner of this property operated a water only bottling plant, the County neglected Lead Agency responsibility and it fell to another limited purpose agency, the Regional Water Control Board, which never conducted a thorough EIR and never enforced the inadequate Mitigated Negative Declaration eventually adopted. As this project will also include the need for Crystal Geyser to connect to the City of Mount Shasta’s wastewater treatment plant, W.A.T.E.R. sees the City of Mount Shasta as the logical Lead Agency for this project. The City of Mount Shasta already had experience in preparing for a Crystal Geyser EIR around a cancelled sewer upgrade project, of which Crystal Geyser was to be the primary beneficiary.
W.A.T.E.R. is also concerned that Crystal Geyser pay for all costs of an EIR, as would any other developer, and not burden tax payers with this considerable expense.
W.A.T.E.R., the local community, and all those concerned about the environment will continue the effort to ensure that a thorough EIR be conducted and that it will consider all aspects of Crystal Geyser’s operations such as industrial water extraction and consequent possible groundwater depletion during historic drought conditions, effects on local domestic wells within the shared aquifer, pollution from plastic bottle production, pollution from industrial waste, plant noise, air pollution and odors, truck traffic, general plant aesthetics on our scenic rural environment and the ability of the City waste treatment plant to process the plant’s effluent.
Geneva Omann, Secretary of W.A.T.E.R., a 501(c)3 organization, stated: “The entire community will be watching this EIR process and wants to participate to ensure we have effective protection of our community and our precious natural environment.”
At this time, W.A.T.E.R. will continue to pursue its lawsuit challenging County zoning problems and ground water extraction permit issues around Crystal Geyser as these are still outstanding and of concern. (WATER PR)