Environmental studies not required for Crystal Geyser

Skye Kinkade

No additional environmental impact reports are required before Crystal Geyser opens in Mount Shasta next year.

Manufacturing and bottling juices and teas is a “permitted use” of the land for Siskiyou County’s heavy industrial zoning classification, under the “bottlers, distillers and wineries” category, according to Greg Plucker, the county’s Public Health & Community Development Deputy Executive Director.

No water use limits apply because Crystal Geyser has water rights that go along with the acreage the 145,000 square foot facility sits on. That’s concerning to some community members who worry that overuse of the aquifer could damage the Headwaters springs and local wells.

Richard Weklych, Crystal Geyser’s executive vice president of manufacturing, said he anticipates they will be pumping “significantly less” water than the amount Coca Cola used at its peak of production. When running aseptic products (such as juices and teas) he estimates that on days when the plant is running at full capacity, the company will be using a maximum of 200,000 to 225,000 gallons of water. Of that volume, approximately 50,000 gallons would be wastewater, he said.

“Based on hydrogeology reports, Crystal Geyser Water Company does not anticipate any foreseeable impact on the local water table,” said Weklych when asked if the company would decrease pumping in the event of a serious drought in the Mt. Shasta area. “Therefore, any question regarding the impact the facility might have in the event of a severe drought... would be speculative.”

When the facility was first built as a Dannon water bottling plant in 2001, a Negative Mitigated Declaration was issued through the California Regional Water Quality Control Board, Plucker said. The plant was later sold to Coca Cola, which stopped water bottling operations about three years ago, citing poor market conditions.

Wastewater

Crystal Geyser’s effluent water will be treated in Mount Shasta’s wastewater treatment plant, even though the facility is located just outside city limits on Ski Village Drive.

The city’s wastewater operation is being upgraded with a $3 million federal grant from the Economic Development Administration in order to handle the increased load. Crystal Geyser is matching that amount to upsize the city’s main sewer interceptor line and add two lagoons to the wastewater treatment plant.

After the work is complete, the system will be able to handle up to 750,000 gallons a day from Crystal Geyser, said Mount Shasta Public Works Director Rod Bryan, as well as the amount the city already uses.

On an average day with dry weather, Mount Shasta uses an average of 500,000 to 600,000 gallons of water daily. During peak flows in winter, the city’s wastewater can reach three million gallons a day, Bryan said.

Though the 18 to 30 inch lines will be large enough to accommodate 750,000 gallons a day, Weklych estimates Crystal Geyser’s daily usage will be about 50,000 gallons a day when the facility first opens with one production line. He said that’s possible with new and more efficient technologies.

“Recently a new aseptic technology process has been developed for use in the Shasta plant resulting in greatly reduced wastewater,” Weklych said. “When running in aseptic conditions, we could generate approximately 50,000 gallons of wastewater per 24 hour day, although generally it will be less. Our current business is about 75 percent sparkling water with flavors and about 25 percent other products which would be produced aseptically (Tejava, Juice Squeeze, and Metromint). The sparkling waters would generate very little wastewater since they do not need to be run aseptically.

“The old aseptic technology, which was originally considered and would have generated approximately 187,000 gallons per day of wastewater, will not be used in Shasta,” Weklych continued. “So the 187,000 gallons per day and the future additional potential wastewater capacity numbers (for two potential additional production lines) of 500,000 and 750,000 gallons capacity per day (perhaps 20 years in future) are no longer relevant.”

Weklych noted that bottling is a seasonal business and the facility would seldom be running 24/7, but normally five days a week.

Mount Shasta City Manager Paul Eckert said even if Crystal Geyser doesn’t initially use the full 750,000 gallons per day, the city is “building out” in order to meet any future needs of the company as well as other businesses which may develop in the city. This was a factor which helped the city obtain the $3 million grant from the EDA, which provides assistance for business development and expansion.

Eckert said the city will need to increase its sewer rates in the future, but this is not due to Crystal Geyser. Instead, the increases are necessary for the city to upgrade its wastewater treatment facility due state mandates and tighter discharge restrictions.

Eckert said the grant money and matching funds from Crystal Geyser will save the taxpayers money because the city will not need to pay for additional lagoons or interceptor upgrades, work that would have been necessary anyway.

The upgrades to the city’s system will require a CEQA review, Plucker said. Discharge is regulated by the California Regional Water Quality Control Board.

Bottling

Crystal Geyser plans to form plastic bottles at the facility, Weklych said, though they haven’t made a firm decision regarding the process they’ll use.

There are two main ways companies make plastic bottles, Weklych said. One way is to use PET resin to manufacture preforms, which are then blown up with high pressure air. Companies can also buy the preforms and have them shipped in.

At this stage, Crystal Geyser will likely be using the preform method, Weklych said.

Calistoga facility

Crystal Geyser’s announcement that it had purchased the Mount Shasta facility caused some to speculate about the future of its plant in Calistoga, which first opened in the late 1970s.

Weklych said the company hasn’t made a decision regarding the Calistoga facility. If it were to be closed, some employees may be offered an opportunity to transfer to Mount Shasta, though Weklych said he doesn’t foresee “a big migration.”

Weklych confirmed the Mount Shasta facility will employ 60 to 65 people when it is up and running.

Truck traffic

Eckert said Crystal Geyser’s truck traffic will be restricted to using the north Mount Shasta freeway entrance.

This will help reduce congestion and damage to the streets from heavy truck traffic, Eckert said.

This will be included in a “development agreement” between the city and Crystal Geyser, Eckert said. The terms, which are similar to those the city had with Dannon and Coca Cola, have been “preliminarily agreed to” and will be formalized in the coming months.

The agreement will also include a variety of terms regarding the city’s wastewater treatment plant upgrades, Eckert said.

Founded in Calistoga in 1977, Crystal Geyser was acquired by the Japanese company Otsuka Pharmaceuticals in 1989, according to a press release.

It is the Japanese branch of the company which will be involved at the Mount Shasta facility.