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Conflict Brewing Over Massive Bottling Plant In Anacortes

Sara Lerner

Conflict is brewing in Anacortes over what could be one of the country's largest water bottling plants. As KUOW's Sara Lerner reports, the Anacortes City Council is expected to vote tonight on a key piece in the process to bring in a huge new manufacturing facility.


The city already signed a contract with a company called Tethys, authorizing city water services for a massive amount of production: up to five million gallons of water per day. To understand how big that is: the old Rainier brewery in Seattle used a tiny fraction of that amount: just five percent.

Tethys still needs to acquire some land and that's where tonight's Anacortes City Council vote comes in. A council resolution is needed to designate a particular parcel of land 'urban growth area.' That's land Tethys wants to buy for the plant. Sandra Spargo lives in Anacortes.

She started a group called 'Defending Water in the Skagit River Basin' to oppose this potential new facility. She says she's worried about quality of life. Will more manufacturing bring a dramatic increase in pollution? Will it drive tourists away?

And she says she's upset the city's agreement with Tethys only guarantees about 500 jobs.

Spargo: "How many people are going to be coming in that are imported from outside? What chance do local people who have no training in bottling whatsoever, what chance do they have for a good–paying family wage job?"

It's still not clear what the facility would actually make. If it is water bottling, it would be one of the largest in the country. But Anacortes' mayor Dean Maxwell says it might be a business park with all kinds of manufacturing. The mayor says more industry is good for the city and it will bring in money. He says it will help the schools, police, the fire department. One councilmember has said he'll definitely vote no. In a full council vote, it would need four votes to pass.

I'm Sara Lerner, KUOW News.

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