Bottled-water Facility Planned by Niagara Bottling in Chesterfield County, Va. – August 2016 Announcement; Concerns Expressed by Some Citizens over Permitted Wetlands Impacts

On August 16, 2016, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe’s office announced that Niagara Bottling LLC (headquartered in Ontario, California; online at http://www.niagarawater.com/) plans to invest $95 million to establish a bottled-water facility at Meadowville Technology Park in Chesterfield County.

Following is an excerpt from the governor’s office’s news release on the announcement: “The company will utilize state-of-the-art filtration to produce its Niagara brand and private label bottled water.  Virginia successfully competed against Maryland for the project, which will create 76 new jobs.  …Niagara Bottling is the largest private label bottled water supplier in the U.S., supplying major retailers across the nation.  …The Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with Chesterfield County and the Greater Richmond Partnership to secure this project for Virginia.  Governor McAuliffe approved a $500,000 grant from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund to assist Chesterfield County with the project.  Niagara will also be eligible to receive sales and use tax exemptions on manufacturing equipment.  Funding and services to support the company’s employee training activities will also be provided through the Virginia Jobs Investment Program.”

Some county citizens, including Glen Besa, the former head of the Sierra Club of Virginia, raised objections over the project’s intention to destroy 10 acres of wetlands during construction (for which the company would be responsible for compensation, under federal and state law).  The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and Chesterfield County Economic Development Authority approved a permit calling for creation of replacement wetland acres north of Chesterfield, but concerns have been raised that the amount of wetland acres impacted will be unusually large (compared to other permits), that created wetlands often do not functionally replace natural wetlands, and that the company could have located in the county’s existing industrial park.

Sources:
Governor McAuliffe Announces $95 Million Investment in Chesterfield County; Niagara Bottling LLC to establish Mid-Atlantic operation, creating 76 new jobs, Virginia Governor’s Office News Release, 8/16/16.
County lauds bottling firm, others worry about impact, Chesterfield Observer, 8/24/16.
Environmental concerns surrounding new Niagara Bottling facility in Chesterfield, WRIC TV-Richmond, 8/30/16.

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