The opening date for Crystal Geyser's Mount Shasta plant is tentatively scheduled for September 2015. The company will begin production with sparkliing water, but future plans include also producing all its PET plastic bottled teas, flavored water, and juice products in the Mount Shasta facility.
Crystal Geyser Executive Vice President of Marketing and Business Strategy Judy Yee said the Mount Shasta plant will bottle only sparkling water when it opens early this fall. Production of teas and flavored water beverages will be added at some point.
The company intends for its Mount Shasta facility to eventually produce all of Crystal Geyser PET plastic bottled beverages, according to Yee.
Currently the company’s Valencia plant produces Metromint in PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic bottles. The plant in Calistoga produces sparkling water in PET bottles. The Bakersfield plant produces teas and flavored water beverages in glass bottles.
“We’ll close the Valencia plant and will likely cease production at the Calistoga plant once the Mount Shasta plant is producing sparkling water, tea and juice at full capacity, while likely keeping a presence in Calistoga for warehousing and administrative functions,” Yee confirmed.
She said while the company has no current plans for glass bottled products in Mount Shasta, Crystal Geyser will evaluate over time the size of the glass bottled beverage market before deciding what if any changes will be made concerning the Bakersfield facility.
Final figures on effluent volume, supplementary power needs and the number of people to be employed at the plant, will all be based on a number of factors not yet known for certain, according to Yee.
“Right now many of our estimates are based on the manufacturer’s specifications for the equipment, which is new to Crystal Geyser operations,” she reported.
The equipment is familiar however, to parent company Otsuka Pharmaceutical based in Japan, and Yee confirmed that three representatives from that parent company have been in Mount Shasta for more than a year to help.
“They’ve been involved in early training and knowledge transfer and will help set the equipment up,” she said.
The Crystal Geyser facility will produce both domestic and industrial effluent.
The company is prepared to use both Mount Shasta City’s wastewater system, to which it is already connected, and the leach field permitted originally for Coca Cola/Danone and transferred to Crystal Geyser when it purchased the plant, according to Lee.
She said the city’s wastewater system will be the primary one used for effluent disposal.
Mount Shasta Mayor Geoff Harkness said right now the only effluent the company is permitted to send through the city system is its domestic waste.
“There is no permit for Mount Shasta City to treat effluent from industrial operations, such as bottle rinse water,” he stated in an email.
Harkness added that his understanding is Crystal Geyser wants the city to process its industrial effluent, is ready to begin the permitting process, and is “open to working with the city to find solutions given the current capacity of the sewage transport system between the plant and the wastewater treatment plant.”
The plant’s leach field permit specifications require that the effluent be food grade, Yee reported. “Because all products in use at the plant will be food grade, the effluent will be food grade as well.”
She added that the company estimates a “much lower volume” than the permit specifications allow will be released into the leach field.
Early projections of the effluent volume to be generated by plant operations were high because Crystal Geyser was planning on more water for bottle rinsing than will actually be used, according to Yee.
“New technology allows us to rinse with significantly less water,” she explained.
Crystal Geyser is considering solar and other renewable energy sources for what Yee described as “supplementary power” that may be needed during times of peak volume production.
She said plans for supplemental power are in the final stages of evaluation, pending data from actual production on the new equipment.
Yee said Crystal Geyser is basing its operations on the expectation that 60 people ultimately will be employed to staff one production line at full operation in the Mount Shasta plant. But she said it is still unclear how many people will be needed on “day one.”
Once production is underway, the company will determine how many bottles can be produced per hour with the new equipment, according to Yee. That will confirm how many work shifts must be established and how many people must be hired to fill those shifts.
Some employees will be people who opt to transfer from other Crystal Geyser plants, and some will be recruited locally.
She said while some skill sets will be required of job applicants, training will be provided for other skills.
“Our aim is to hire as many local residents as possible,” Yee said.
To that end, Crystal Geyser is one of several businesses working with the Mount Shasta Chamber of Commerce to plan a county-wide job fair for later this spring.
She said employees transferring from within the company will be familiar with bottling processes and procedures and “can help train those who are not.”
Yee said a “best estimate” for the Mount Shasta plant’s opening is September.
Most of the build-out underway is interior, with demolition work being done inside the facility and production equipment arriving for set up.
“We’ll be able to assess our opening date more accurately once those parts of the project are complete,” she said.