Nestle Waters North America, owner of Poland Spring, Deer Park and other brands of spring water, will drill wells in the Johnstown watershed as part of its exploration for a new bottling site.
The Johnstown Common Council voted unanimously this week to give the company permission to drill wells near the city reservoirs located in the Adirondack foothills northwest of the city.
Nestle Waters, which also owns Perrier, is testing water at a number of sites nationally, including on the Canajoharie watershed in Ephratah where drilling began last summer.
The Canajoharie watershed nearly abuts the Johnstown watershed.
Mayor Sarah J. Slingerland said the company will test for quality and volume. She said she expects drilling to begin in the near future.
Lisa McCoy, marketing director of the Fulton County Economic Development Corp., said Nestle will choose a site and set up a plant that could employ between 50 and 300 people depending on water volume.
The Common Council approval followed an earlier approval by the Johnstown Water Board.
Nestle spokeswoman Jane Lazgin said the Johnstown and Canajoharie testing is part of program continuing nationwide to identify optimum water sources. She said the company, with U.S. headquarters in Connecticut, is always looking for sources.
She said sites are judged by a long list of criteria gauging quality and taste to volume and the impact on the neighboring environment.
She said the testing demands a lengthy evaluation and said the drilling in Johnstown is a “very initial step” in the process.
She said a considerable number of sites are being evaluated on the East Coast.
Canajoharie Trustee Garth McFarland and other village officials met Tuesday morning with Nestle natural resource manager Kent Koptiuch about the status of the Canajoharie water testing.
McFarland said tests at the various wells drilled on the watershed produced high water quality and volume, but officials were told there are similar tests being conducted at a number of locations.
“He was encouraging but was no where near offering a commitment of any kind,” McFarland said of Koptiuch.
Nestle has already completed tests at a Tug Hill location, McFarland said they were told.
Johnstown officials were told it may be at least a year before Nestle chooses a site.
While a number of communities are in the running, McFarland said the possibility that Canajoharie could be selected is “a ray of hope that we’re obviously looking at.”
Canajoharie officials have recently started to express their concerns about replacing the village’s largest employer, Beech-Nut Nutrition Corp., which intends to open a new 635,000-square-foot manufacturing plant in the town of Florida, relocating about 335 jobs by 2011.
Nestle demands that the water used in its 15 brands is taken from springs, McCoy said.