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Nestle puts lid on controversial Phoenix water bottling plant

(Twitter Photo/@NestleWatersHQ)

PHOENIX – After investing tens of millions of dollars, Nestle has shut down the controversial water bottling plant it opened in Phoenix less than a year ago.

In an emailed statement, Phoenix factory manager Hugues Larente on Monday cited competitive reasons for the facility’s demise.

“Bottled water is a highly competitive category. In response to the competitive situation, we have been evolving our operations to meet our future needs and to position the company for long-term success,” the statement said.

“As another step toward that goal, we have made the decision to cease production at our Phoenix factory, effective immediately.”

The plant opened in July 2018 and ceased production Friday.

Nestle announced in 2016 it would spend $35 million to turn a warehouse near 43rd Avenue and Buckeye Road into a water bottling plant.

“Establishing a Phoenix facility reduces transportation miles for distribution from facilities in other parts of the western region and allows for faster, localized and more efficient service to our customers and consumers,” Nestle said in a press release at the time.

The water came from the city of Phoenix and was purchased at the standard rate to be treated, bottled and resold.

Environmentalists argued against tapping into the desert city’s water supply and waged a petition campaign to stop it.

The company said it would hire 40-50 people to staff the facility, but Larente’s statement said the factory had 15 workers who were being laid off and given separation packages.

“We are also reaching out within the Nestle family of companies to explore if there are available positions for impacted associates with similar skills and capability requirements,” the statement said.

Nestle said the closure won’t impact deliveries from its ReadyRefresh service, which has been operating in Phoenix since 1980.

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