Locals up in arms as Swiss water source set to be sold to Chinese investors
Local residents in Valais are up in arms after it was revealed that one of the country’s largest sources of water - a natural mineral spring located in the canton - could soon be sold to Chinese investors. Set against the backdrop of potential droughts caused by the unusually dry and hot Swiss weather over the last year, many locals argued that the water source has key strategic value and should therefore not be sold to an overseas buyer.
Swiss owner plans to sell water abroad
The spring, which is located in the municipality of Turtmann-Unterems, is currently owned by an entrepreneur. According to the Blick newspaper, the current owner has owned the water for 12 years, but is now trying to sell the rights to the source, with investors from China currently seen as the front-runners to take over.
With investor support, the owner has planned to spend 30 million Swiss francs on the spring by constructing and operating a bottling plant. The owner then intends to sell the water abroad, as the Swiss market for bottled water is already saturated.
Current owner rejects offer from domestic Swiss investor
The idea of selling the water source to Chinese investors has not gone down well with the locals, especially since the area faced consistent heat waves and water shortages last year. One resident told Blick that "in the summer we weren't even allowed to wash our car 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? It's a horror, really bad."
Representatives of the Swiss government have drafted up a number of plans to keep the water supply in Swiss hands, arguing that it seems senseless to sell off water supplies to Chinese investors at a time when Switzerland is trying to reduce its dependence on foreign countries. Despite this, the current owner is unwilling to accept the domestic offer.