PHOENIX (FOX 10) -- Officials with Nestle say it will close a water bottling plant in Phoenix, effective immediately.
The decision was announced on Monday by factory manager Hugues Larente. In a statement, company officials say they will move the production line to support growth in a different part of the country, and they will provide those affected by the closure with separation packages, based on their years of employment with the company.
In addition, company officials say they will reach out to other companies within its portfolio to see if there are available positions for those affected.
In May 2016, Nestle Waters announced its plans to open a water bottling plant in the West Valley, with plans to fill 35 million gallons of water into an estimated 264 million bottles each year. At the time, Phoenix city officials say the plant will create 45-50 well-paying jobs, with hundreds more in the future.
"For each job they create, it creates somewhere from three to five jobs elsewhere in the community, and that's done by people who come in to work on the equipment, and scientists who are testing the water," said Christine MacKay, City of Phoenix Community and Economic Development Directors, back in 2016.
On Nestle's website, company officials say they had an investment of $35 million on the plant, which includes water recovery systems. In addition, company officials say the water they had expected to buy represents 0.035% of Phoenix's total water use, based on 2014 data, and that they will pay the same rate that other metered commercial water customers pay.
Critics, however, said at the time that water in a drought-stricken state should not be provided to a for-profit source.
"40 to 50 jobs is not worth putting our most precious natural resource in the hands of a big company like that," said Sabrina Reed at the time. "It just seems like an unnecessary risk with the uncertainty of climate change going on right now, and we're in a drought, and we're barely getting any rain."