In 2018, we learned about a potential drinking water deal between Nestle and the Town and Village of St. Johnsville, NY, North of Kingston located on the Mohawk River in the Hudson River watershed. Quickly, we identified the advocates working on this problem and outreached to them in order to offer our support and experience from the ground where we were successful in knocking out the Niagara Bottling proposal who was looking to purchase 1.75m GPD of our drinking water supply back in 2014.
Five years later, their community wrote to alert us that they had succeeded in beating back the Nestle deal. What’s more, is that the community members who were on the frontline went on to run for office and win elections to replace both the Town Supervisor and Village Mayor in St. Johnsville, NY.
We must pay it forward when so many community members provide their invaluable time and expertise to protect their community from the privatization of their municipal drinking water source. In that spirit, we will continue to offer our support to communities as we have done now for a decade. We believe that those who experience the same positive result will do so, too.
When did you first learn about Nestle coming to your community?
In 2018, the St. Johnsville Chamber of Commerce announced that Nestlé Waters was granted permission to perform a study of our municipal water supply as they had an interest in sourcing water.
What were they asking for?
At that time their request was simply to study our water supply.
What is your municipal water supply? Do community members have a say in how it’s managed or sold?
Our primary water supply comes from Congdon Springs in Ephratah, NY- about 7 miles from the village. Our secondary water source Is the Burgess Well, which is located within the village. Residents do not have a say in the way water is managed or sold.
How long have you been organizing around this problem? Can you list all of the members of your strategic group, and how did you all succeed?
Community members began watching this study since the fall of 2018. Since 2022, our group has been very actively following. Dawn White (now the new mayor of the Village of St. Johnsville), Phoebe Sitterly (now the new supervisor of the Town of St. Johnsville), Jordan McDaniel and Katrina Caringi championed this effort.
What have you learned throughout this process?
If something doesn’t “seem right”, it probably isn’t. Don’t be afraid to stand up and advocate for what’s important!
How did KingstonCitizens.org help your effort? Are you interested in providing the same support for other communities that find themselves in this position?
Back in 2018, we met with Rebecca Martin and she was kind to offer guidance. Through time, the lessons that KingstonCitizens.org learned has proved to be very helpful. We were given hope that there was something that could be done to stop them and we would be happy to help other communities.