Crystal Geyser pulls out of Mount Shasta water bottling plant
After seven years of controversy, Crystal Geyser Water Company announced last week that it has given up on opening its Mount Shasta facility.
A representative for the company said Crystal Geyser was “challenged every step of the way” since it purchased the nearly 145,000 square foot facility in 2013.
“This is really good news ... that we’ve been able to successfully defend our neighborhood from inappropriate development,” said Bruce Hillman, a spokesperson for “We Advocate Thorough Environmental Review.” Activists formed the group to oppose Crystal Geyser in Mount Shasta and have since become more vocal about getting businesses to increase sustainability and on water rights issues.
“This vindicates us,” said Mark Miyoshi, historic preservation officer for the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, which works closely with WATER. “We have been working so hard to ensure environmental concerns have been addressed, but we are also cautious, because we don’t know what will happen with that building.”
“It’s unfortunate that an asset like (Crystal Geyser’s building) — which used to be a water bottling plant — could not get up and running despite a pretty lengthy process,” said District 2 Siskiyou County Supervisor Ed Valenzuela. “It cost a lot of time and money, for no gain.”
Hillman said he’s unsure how the development will affect a lawsuit his group filed April 16 in California's 3rd District Court of Appeal, alleging Crystal Geyser’s Environmental Impact Report was “fatally flawed.” However, he said WATER is "prepared to proceed until we prevail in the lawsuit."
“Over the past six years many of you have put in huge amounts money, time, and resources to understand this project,” WATER said in its most recent newsletter. “We demanded an environmental review (against the desires of the county supervisors) to protect our area from this possible water depletion, pollution and noise. None of this would have been possible without community support, well attended public meetings, EIR comments, and financial donations.”
Crystal Geyser said in a statement the company is “grateful to the community in Mount Shasta and throughout the county for supporting” the company in its long effort to open the plant. The statement pointed out the company created 50 jobs during the plant’s construction and has been paying around $400,000 to Siskiyou County in property taxes each year.
The statement went on to say that Crystal Geyser participated in a full California Environmental Quality Act EIR, rather than seeking a negative declaration.
“We compiled and got adopted an environmental impact report over a period of a year and a half, relying on a voluminous record of over 50,000 pages, with nearly 5,500 pages of technical appendices and 392 pages of response to comments,” according to the company’s spokesperson. “The county Superior Court affirmed that the project had undergone a thorough and complete environmental review, ruling twice in our favor; yet appeals were filed and are currently in the appellate court.”
A massive building for sale
Crystal Geyser said the bottled water business has experienced a shift since 2013, “and we had to adjust our strategic plan to reflect that.”
“Because of this we are currently exploring any and all options for the land, the plant and its equipment. We may sublet the building, or we may sell it. The equipment is now outdated and will likely be sold.”
The building is on the market with an asking price of $8 million, according to a listing on LoopNet.
Before the company’s purchase of the former Coca Cola Plant in late 2013, the massive building — located right outside Mount Shasta city limits — had been sitting empty for about three years.
During a ribbon cutting ceremony for the plant in 2013, Crystal Geyser representatives said they hoped to open the facility in December of 2014 to bottle Juice Squeeze, sparkling mineral water, Tejava and Metromint products.
During the May 10 Mount Shasta City Council meeting, councilor Tim Stearns suggested that the Ski Village Drive property be annexed into city limits, so the city can have more control over the property’s future development.
Miyoshi said he’d like to see “some good, sustainable development on the property that will benefit the city of Mount Shasta and its residents.”
“I don’t know what that will be, but it seems that someone with some good imagination (and some money) could develop it for the good of the community," Miyoshi said.
WATER representative Raven Stevens said Crystal Geyser paid $5.2 million for the property in 2013.
“So given inflation, building improvements, etc, this is not a big profit for CG and in fact is a reasonable price for a big empty building and 260 acres with a good well," said Stevens.
Hillman said the community needs to think outside the box to insure the building isn’t developed into something that “doesn’t pollute or extract.”
“The city, the county and local area residents need to be vigilant and imaginative about what this property will become,” Hillman said.
Skye Kinkade is the editor of the Mt. Shasta Area Newspapers and the Siskiyou Daily News. She is a fourth generation Siskiyou County resident and has lived in Mount Shasta and Weed her entire life.