GENEVA – Despite a looming threat of drought, rights to one of Switzerland’s largest sources of drinking water are up for sale to international investors.
The source in question is the Muhlackern spring in Switzerland’s Valais region, daily Blick reported on Friday.
Officials of the municipality of Turtmann-Unterems, an area in Valais, told the newspaper that negotiations are underway with various parties, including Chinese investors.
A rights contract valid for 99 years was signed with a local entrepreneur 12 years ago, according to the report.
The owner, however, has been trying unsuccessfully to sell the rights ever since, it added.
Plans for the spring include a 30 million Swiss franc (US$32.3 million) project that would include a bottling plant for mineral water, reported Anadolu.
The mineral water would be sold abroad as the Swiss market is already sufficiently saturated, the report said.
The move to sell the water source has drawn criticism from within the community in light of an impending risk of drought.
“In the summer we were not even allowed to wash our cars because we had to save water. And now this source, which we could probably make good use of ourselves at some point, is to be sold abroad? This is … really bad,” a resident told Blick.
According to experts, there was not enough snowfall in Switzerland this winter, which combined with overall high temperatures and scant rain could lead to water supply problems this summer.
Another resident, though, voiced support for the plan, saying a mineral water factory will create new jobs.
“What’s important to me is simply that the workers also have good working conditions,” the resident told Blick.- Bernama