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Drought-Stricken California Residents Demand That Nestlé Company Stop Bottling Water

Drought-Stricken California Residents Demand That Nestlé Company Stop Bottling Water

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A petition is going around to stop the California-based Nestlé from continuing to bottle water in the middle of a drought

Wikimedia Commons

While an entire state is drying up, Nestlé continues to bottle California’s precious water.

While California waits for the black cloud of drought to dissipate, legislators are taking strict actions, banning restaurants from serving water unless a customer requests it and, most recently, placing a mandatory 25 percent water reduction sanction on residents. More than 135,000 residents have signed a petition to shut down Nestlé’s water-bottling facilities immediately.

“With people across California doing their part to conserve water — it’s time that Nestlé did the right thing and put people over profits by immediately halting their water bottling operations in Cabazon, California, and across the state,” explained Eddie Kurtz, executive director of the California-based Courage Campaign, which is leading the fight against Nestlé. “And if Nestlé won’t do what’s right to protect California’s precious water supply, it is up to the State Water Resource Control Board to step in and stop this blatant misuse of water during this epic drought.”

According to Salon, Nestlé pumps out 2,000 to 2,500 gallons of water annually, producing one billion bottles of water every year. Nestlé is actually exempt from the water sanctions, according to Salon, because they have a 25-year contract with the Morongo Band of Cahuilla Mission Indians to draw water from nearby wells and natural springs on the reservation lands. Residents say, according to SF Weekly, that it’s completely unfair that they’re measuring how much water is exactly necessary to boil pasta while Nestlé continues to suck precious springs dry and sell that water in plastic bottles.

Nestlé Faces Backlash Over Collecting Water From Drought-Stricken Southern California

GLENDALE ( &mdash In the San Bernardino Mountains, an intricate maze of pipes collects and funnels tens of millions of gallons of water each year, which is the original source for Nestle’s Arrowhead Water.

Larry Lawrence, who manages the spring for Nestle Waters, said it is a naturally flowing source. They do not pump anything, siphon anything. It just naturally flows.

Spring water collects in a tunnel and moves downhill through a pipeline. At the bottom, tanker trucks load and transport it to a nearby plant, where the water is bottled.

According to the Beverage Marketing Co., the water business is booming, and bottled water sales were up 9 percent over the last year. The trend has sent Nestle looking for new sources to meet customer demand.

Of the company’s current 40 water sources around the country, 11 are in California, which is dealing with a long-term drought.

“Every gallon of water that is taken out of the natural system for bottled water is a gallon of water that doesn’t flow down a stream that doesn’t support a natural ecosystem,” said Peter Gleick, author of “Bottled and Sold.”

Nestle, whose headquarters is based in Glendale, has faced protests over its water collection in California because of the drought and the fact that the site is on public land.

While the company takes about 30 million gallons each year, it pays only $524 to the U.S. Forest Service for the permit.

“I think it’s fair to say that in this case, our public agencies have dropped the ball,” Gleick said.

The Forest Service is now reviewing Nestle’s permit for the first time in 30 years. The agency declined a request for an interview.

Nelson Switzer, who is Nestle’s Waters’ chief sustainability officer, said it is fair for Nestle to make money off of the water.

“From a perception standpoint, I understand why people are asking that question. But water belongs to no one,” said Switzer, who emphasized that Nestle takes its responsibility as a water steward very seriously.

“The sustainability of the supply is paramount and that if our activities were to compromise the sustainability of that supply, we would stop operating. I hope people remember that water itself is a renewable business,” he explained. “As long as that is managed properly, that system will be renewable forever.”

Why the US Love Affair With Bottled Water Has to Stop

This spring, as California withered in its fourth year of drought and mandatory water restrictions were enacted for the first time in the state’s history, a news story broke revealing that Nestlé Waters North America was tapping springs in the San Bernardino National Forest in southern California using a permit that expired 27 years ago.

And when the company’s CEO Tim Brown was asked on a radio program if Nestlé would stop bottling water in the Golden State, he replied, “Absolutely not. In fact, if I could increase it, I would.” That’s because bottled water is big business, even in a country where most people have clean, safe tap water readily and cheaply available. (Although it should be noted that Starbucks agreed to stop sourcing and manufacturing their Ethos brand water in California after being drought-shamed.)

Profits made by the industry are much to the chagrin of nonprofits like Corporate Accountability International (CAI), a corporate watchdog, and Food and Water Watch (FWW), a consumer advocacy group, both of which have waged campaigns against the bottled water industry for years. But representatives from both organizations say they’ve won key fights against the industry in the last 10 years and have helped shift people’s consciousness on the issue.

A Battle of Numbers

In 2014 bottled water companies spent more than $84 million on advertising to compete with each other and to convince consumers that bottled water is healthier than soda and safer than tap. And it seems to be paying off: Americans have an increasing love of bottled water, particularly those half-liter-sized single-use bottles that are ubiquitous at every check-out stand and in every vending machine. According to Beverage Marketing Corporation (BMC), a data and consulting firm, in the last 14 years consumption of bottled water in the US has risen steadily, with the only exception being a quick dip during the 2008-2009 recession.

In 2000, Americans each drank an average of 23 gallons of bottled water. By 2014, that number hit 34 gallons a person. That translates to 10.7 billion gallons for the US market and sales of $13 billion last year. At the same time, consumption of soda is falling, and by 2017, bottled water sales may surpass that of soda for the first time.

But there is also indication that more eco-conscious consumers are carrying reusable bottles to refill with tap. A Harris poll in 2010 found that 23 percent of respondents switched from bottled water to tap (the number was slightly higher during 2009 recession). Reusable bottles are now chic and available in myriad designs and styles. And a Wall Street Journal story tracked recent acquisitions in the reusable bottle industry that indicate big growth as well, although probably not enough to make a dent in the earnings of bottling giants like Nestlé, Coke and Pepsi.

Why the Fight Over Bottled Water

“The single most important factor in the growth of bottled water is heightened consumer demand for healthier refreshment,” says BMC’s managing director of research Gary A. Hemphill. “Convenience of the packaging and aggressive pricing have been contributing factors.”

That convenience, though, comes with an environmental cost. The Pacific Institute, a nonprofit research organization, found that it took the equivalent of 17 million barrels of oil to make all the plastic water bottles that thirsty Americans drank in 2006 – enough to keep a million cars chugging along the roads for a year. And this is only the energy to make the bottles, not the energy it takes to get them to the store, keep them cold or ship the empties off to recycling plants or landfills.

Of the billions of plastic water bottles sold each year, the majority don’t end up being recycled. Those single-serving bottles, also known as PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottles because of the kind of resin they’re made with, are recycled at a rate of about 31 percent in the US The other 69 percent end up in landfills or as litter.

And while recycling them is definitely a better option than throwing them away, it comes with a cost, too. Stiv Wilson, director of campaigns at the Story of Stuff Project, says that most PET bottles that are recycled end up, not as new plastic bottles, but as textiles, such as clothing. And when you wash synthetic clothing, microplastics end up going down the drain and back into waterways. These tiny plastic fragments are dangerous for wildlife, especially in oceans.

“If you start out with a bad material to begin with, recycling it is going to be an equally bad material,” says Wilson. “You’re changing its shape but its environmental implications are the same.” PET bottles are part of a growing epidemic of plastic waste that’s projected to get worse. A recent study found that by 2050, 99 percent of seabirds will be ingesting plastic.

“We notice in all the data that the amount of plastic in the environment is growing exponentially,” says Wilson. “We are exporting it to places that can’t deal with it, we’re burning it with dioxins going into the air. The whole chain of custody is bad for the environment, for animals and the humans that deal with it. The more you produce, the worse it gets. The problem grows.”

Even on land, plastic water bottles are a problem – and in some of our most beautiful natural areas, as a recent controversy over bottled water in National Parks has shown. According to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), more than 20 national parks have banned the sale of plastic water bottles, reporting that plastic bottles average almost one third of the solid waste that parks must pay (with taxpayer money) to have removed.

After Zion National Park in Utah banned the sale of plastic water bottles, the park saw sales of reusable bottles jump 78 percent and kept it 60,000 bottles (or 5,000 pounds of plastic) a year out of the waste stream. The park also made a concerted effort to provide bottle refilling stations across the park so there would be ample opportunity to refill reusable bottles.

There might be more parks with bans but 200 water bottlers backed by the International Bottled Water Association have fought back to oppose measures by parks to cut down on the sale of disposable plastic water bottles. The group was not too happy when National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis wrote that parks “must be a visible exemplar of sustainability,” and said in 2011 that the more than 400 hundreds entities in the National Park Service could ban the sale of plastic bottles if they meet strict requirements for making drinking water available to visitors.

Park officials contend that trashcans are overflowing with bottles in some parks. The bottling industry counters that people are more apt to choose sugary drinks, like soda, if they don’t have access to bottled water. The bottled water industry alliance used its Washington muscle to add a rider to an appropriations bill in July that would have stopped parks from restricting bottled water sales. The bill didn’t pass for other reasons, but it’s likely not the last time the rider will surface in legislation.

Changing Tide

Bottlers may be making big money, but activists have also notched their own share of wins. “When we first started, really no one was out there challenging the misleading marketing that the bottled water industry was giving the public,” said John Stewart, deputy campaign director at CAI, which first began campaigning against bottled water in 2004. “You had no information available to consumers about the sources of bottling and you had communities whose water supplies were being threatened by companies like Nestlé with total impunity.”

If you buy the marketing, then it would appear that most bottled water comes from pristine mountain springs beside snow-capped peaks. But in reality, about half of all bottled water, including Pepsi’s Aquafina and Coca-Cola’s Dasani, come from municipal sources that are then purified or treated in some way. Activists fought to have companies label the source of its water and they succeeded with two of the top three – Pepsi and Nestlé. “We also garnered national media stories that put a spotlight on the fact that bottling corporations were taking our tap water and selling it back to us at thousands of times the price,” said Stewart. “People finally began to see they were getting duped.”

When companies aren’t bottling from municipal sources, the water is mostly spring water tapped from wilderness areas, like Nestlé bottling in the San Bernardino National Forest, or rural communities. Some communities concerned about industrial withdrawals of groundwater have fought back against spring water bottlers – the biggest being Nestlé, which owns dozens of regional brands like Arrowhead, Calistoga, Deer Park, Ice Mountain and Poland Spring. Coalitions have helped back communities in victories in Maine, Michigan and California (among other areas) in fights against Nestlé.

One the biggest was in McCloud, California, which sits in the shadow of snowy Mount Shasta, and actually looks like the label on so many bottles. Residents of McCloud fought for six years against Nestlé’s plan for a water bottling facility that first intended to draw 200 million gallons of water a year from a local spring. Nestlé finally scrapped its plans and left town, but ended up heading 200 miles down the road to the city of Sacramento, where it got a sweetheart deal on the city’s municipal water supply.

CAI and FWW have also worked with college students. Close to a hundred have taken some action, says Stewart. “Not all the schools have been able to ban the sale of bottled water on campus but we’ve come up with other strategies like passing resolutions that student government funds can’t be used to purchase bottled water or increasing the availability of tap water on campus or helping to get water fountains retrofitted so you can refill your reusable bottle,” says Emily Wurth, FWW’s water program director.

Changes have also come at the municipal level. In 2007, San Francisco led the charge by prohibiting the city from spending money on bottled water for its offices. At the 2010 Conference of Mayors, 72 percent of mayors said they have considered “eliminating or reducing bottled water purchases within city facilities” and nine mayors had already adopted a ban proposal. In 2015, San Francisco passed a law (to be phased in over four years) that will ban the sale of bottled water on city property.

These victories, say activists, are part of a much bigger fight – larger than the bottled water industry itself. “We are shifting to fight the wholesale privatization of water a little more,” says Stewart. He says supporters who have joined coalitions to fight bottled water “deeply understand the problematic nature of water for profit and the commodification of water” that transcends from bottled water to private control of municipal power and sewer systems.

Currently the vast majority (90 percent) of water systems in the US are publically run, but cash-strapped cities and towns are also targets of multinational water companies, says Stewart. The situation is made more dire by massive shortfalls in federal funding that used to help support municipal water and now is usually cut during federal budget crunches.

“Cities are so desperate that they don’t think about long-term implications of job cuts, rate hikes, loss of control over the quality of the water and any kind of accountability when it comes to how the system is managed,” says Stewart. “We need to turn all eyes to our public water systems and aging infrastructure and our public services in general that are threatened by privatization.”

Age-Old Oversight

Nestlé is required to submit reports on water usage in the park, but the Forest Service has not closely tracked how much water is actually being taken from the creek. When the pipe was first installed around 1906, an environmental impact assessment was not performed and the modern service hasn’t carried out a study to gauge the pipeline’s impact on native wildlife since.

If we do not know how much water is needed to sustain a healthy ecosystem, how can we justify allowing 705 millions of gallons of water to be funneled into bottles, annually? (Especially in the middle of a serious drought, and especially because we don’t need more bottled water or plastic bottles!)

Essentially, Nestlé is pumping millions of gallons of public water from a drought stricken area and reselling it in the form of bottles to consumers. Yes, this is as ridiculous as it sounds.

Bottling water is an incredibly unsustainable business, and if no one (aside from the people profiting) is monitoring how much water is being extracted from delicate ecosystems, then we’re setting ourselves up for disaster.

Why won’t you stop bottling water in California?

Because people need to drink water. The water we use to make our products is not wasted. It is used efficiently and effectively, and bottled so that it can be drunk as part of a healthy diet. When people are on the move in a place where tap-water is not available, bottled water is a healthy, convenient drink - an alternative to sugary drinks.

How much water do you withdraw in California?

Less than 0.008% of the total. Nearly 50 billion cubic metres (13 trillion gallons) of water is used in California each year. Nestlé uses less than 4 million cubic metres (1 billion gallons) in all its operations. We operate five bottled water plants (out of 108 in the state) and four food plants. Our bottled water plants use around 2.66 million cubic metres (705 million gallons) of water a year.

What is Nestlé’s reaction to Story of Stuff’s claims about your water use?

Nestlé Waters takes water management very seriously and our Natural Resource Managers regularly and consistently monitor our spring sources for long term sustainability. Nestlé Waters' Arrowhead brand has been sourced from springs in Strawberry Canyon for over 100 years. Our continuous operation over that timeframe shows our long track record of sustainably managing water resources in the area.

Nestlé Waters complies with all reporting requirements and continues to report its water use from this spring to the State Water Resources Control Board, which was 25 million gallons in 2014. Nestlé Waters has a senior water right to the Arrowhead Springs that is established under California law. This senior water right has been used continuously since the late 1800s and pre-dates the creation of the San Bernardino National Forest.

But why should your operations continue when people living in the State are being asked to save water?

Closing our operations or reducing the amount of water we withdraw significantly won’t fix the drought. If Nestlé were to shut down all of its plantsin California the resulting annual savings would be less than 0.3% of the total the Governor says the state needs residential and public users to save.

More importantly by producing food and beverages in California we are creating value for California. We employ more than 7,000 people in the state. Our manufacturing facilities and our suppliers in the state are contributing to California’s economy.

So why not reduce the amount of water you use?

We are working on this. Water is a precious resource, not just in a time of drought. We want to build on the progress we have made in recent years to ensure our plants in California are best-in-class for water efficiency within their product categories. Nestlé has long been committed to sustainability. Our long-term success depends upon ensuring our agricultural supply chain, our bottling operations and our manufacturing facilities are sustainable.

So you will try to make your plants more efficient?

Yes. We are always looking for ways to save water in our operations and monitoring their impact on local water sources. Water stewardship is a key pillar of our business. We have made five public commitments on water and you can follow our progress in meeting them in our Nestlé in Society report (pdf 8Mb) published each year.

What specifically will you do in California?

We are in discussions with experts at the World Resources Institute to see how we can further intensify our efforts to save water. We will implement the Alliance for Water Stewardship International Water Stewardship Standard in all our California operations within two years. We will have more to say about this and other initiatives in the weeks ahead. We will work with our suppliers too, ensuring they use water as efficiently as possible.

Does bottling water in drought stricken areas contradict your claim that Nestlé respects the human right to water?

None of our manufacturing facilities or bottling plants, including the ones located in drought stricken areas, interfere with the human right to water.

Has Nestlé Waters North America been operating illegally without a valid permit in the San Bernardino National Forest?

No. We understand that our permit is one of hundreds awaiting renewal by the US Forest Service (USFS). The USFS has repeatedly informed Nestlé Waters North America (NWNA) that we can lawfully continue our operations pending the reissuance of our permit and that the provisions of our existing permit are still in force until the effective date of a new permit. NWNA has continued to receive and pay invoices from the USFS for the annual permit fee, as we have since it was first issued. We also continue to report our water use from the spring to the State Water Resources Control Board.

What is the status of the permit, will it be renewed?

In a letter to Nestlé Waters North America dated 7th April 2015, the US Department of Agriculture, Office of the General Counsel stated that: “In the interim, until the US Forest Service renders a decision on Nestlé’s permit application, the current amended permit remains in full force and effect according to its terms, including those provisions requiring compliance with all relevant State and local laws, regulations and orders.” The US Forest Service is responsible for reissuing the special use permit, which covers the operation of our pipeline.

Does NWNA have a legal right to collect spring water from the San Bernardino National Forest?

Yes. Arrowhead has validly recorded water rights and demonstrated continuous use of those rights since the late 1800’s. In California, “pre-1914” water rights are, by law, valid rights. In fact, these water rights pre-date the creation of the San Bernardino National Forest.

Nestlé has consistently obtained and complied with all United States Forest Service (USFS) special use permits related to its pipeline access to the spring water sources.

How much water are you taking from the National Forest?

In 2014, we used 95 million litres (25 million gallons) of water, which represents less than 10% of measured flow by the US Geological Survey monitoring gauge located at the base of two canyons – Strawberry Canyon where our springs are located, and neighbouring Coldwater Canyon.

Is that negatively affecting the National Forest?

No. To ensure our groundwater use is not more than is naturally sustainable, we only use water that naturally flows to the surface of our Arrowhead spring site in Strawberry Canyon. We regularly monitor the spring water flows and environmental conditions at this site, which show that the forest habitat in this canyon and the neighbouring canyon are healthy and recovering from the devastating wildfires of 2003.

What is your reaction to the lawsuit against the US Forest Service (USFS), which mentions your company?

We are not a party to this lawsuit. However, our permit for the pipeline remains in full force and effect under the federal Administrative Procedure Act. We are working diligently with the USFS on the renewal of the permit. It is in the best interests of all parties to move the process forward. We will continue to abide by all relevant laws and regulations, be it federal, state or local as it relates to our operations.

How much water does the Cabazon bottling plant use?

Our operating agreement with the Morongo Band of Mission Indians which owns the water we use to supply our operation in Cabazon limits what we can report publicly about our operation there.

So how can we be sure that your water withdrawals are not damaging groundwater levels around the facility?

The Tribe and our company share a commitment to ensuring that this ground water supply is sustainably managed for the long-term. We have regular meetings with Tribal water officials and a neutral third-party expert from a Southern Californian regional water agency to discuss local conditions and water conservation efforts.

What are you doing to ensure the long-term viability of the water source at Cabazon?

The Cabazon plant is LEED certified “Silver” and uses equipment and procedures that limit water loss during production, including water recovery for plant use. In 2014, we completed an upgrade at Cabazon that is projected to save 5.3 million litres (1.4 million gallons) of water annually. We consistently monitor groundwater levels at this site, allowing us to identify any potential risks and take prompt action to avoid negative impacts on the local aquifer. We have a system in place at this facility which includes curtailing withdrawals depending on conditions at the spring site. Our monitoring shows that our mitigation efforts have been effective.

Are you paying a fair price for the water you use in Sacramento?

Our Sacramento facility is a customer of the city of Sacramento just like any other metered industrial business or manufacturer and we all pay the same rate for water. We comply with all reporting requirements for our water use in the city of Sacramento, and we voluntarily make public the amount of water we use.

But doesn’t your operation put a burden on Sacramento’s municipal water supply?

No. Nestlé Waters North America uses a fraction of 1% (0.0016%) of total water demand within the city of Sacramento.

But what about those local residents who want you to close the plant?

We welcome open dialogue about our activities in all communities in which we operate, including Sacramento, and are happy to address community questions or concerns. We are strongly committed to responsible water management and fully share concerns about water availability, especially during times of drought.

Drought turns Californians against water bottling companies

A historic drought is forcing one Sanger, California rancher to thin his heard of horces.

As California residents are forced to cut back their water use, some are outraged that companies bottling water there aren’t asked to do the same.

They’ve made a scapegoat of big names like Nestle, which operates five water bottling plants in California. Dozens of activists protested outside two of the plants last week and online petitions have garnered thousands of signatures demanding Nestle halt its bottling operations.

In fact, there are 110 water bottling plants in the state. In addition to Nestle, others big bottlers include Pepsi, which bottles Aquafina Coca-Cola, which bottles Dasani and Crystal Geyser.

But the thing is, the amount of water bottled in California is a tiny fraction of what the entire state uses.

“It’s a pretty small amount,” said Tim Moran, a spokesman for the state’s Water Resources Control Board. The state doesn’t actually track how much water is bottled there.

The International Bottled Water Association says that about 3.1 billion gallons of water are bottled in California annually. Nestle, for example, uses 725 million gallons of water annually at its California bottling plants.

But that volume is dwarfed by the 4 trillion, (with a “t,”) gallons used by residents every year.

Those figures don’t include the biggest users in California: farmers. Agricultural use accounts for about 80 percent annually.

Still, people are angry that companies continue to bottle water during the fourth year of the drought, making money off of it. Meanwhile the governor has imposed mandatory water restrictions on residents for the first time in the state’s history. Water districts must reduce the amount customers use by an average of 25 percent, or face fines. That means Californians need to pull back on watering their lawns.

Nestle said it won’t stop bottling water in California because, chiefly, “people need to drink water.”

The State Water Resources Control Board agrees.

“We’ve determined that bottled water serves a good use, especially in drought-stricken areas where people’s wells have gone dry,” said spokeswoman Miryam Barajas.

While the board implements regulations on residents, it doesn’t regulate bottled water companies, which collect surface water, pump water from the ground, or buy water from local providers. In some areas, bottlers don’t need any kind of approval to use ground water.

Nestle, as well as Pepsi and Coke, say that they are conserving water by making their plants more efficient.

Starbucks did bow to public pressure, and said it would stop producing its Ethos bottled water in the state. It’s moving those operations to Pennsylvania in the next six months.

Even if every bottling company moved out, that wouldn’t solve the drought.

But that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t have an impact at the local level, said Peter Gleick, president of the environmental think tank called the Pacific Institute.

“We’re in a really bad drought,” he said, “and it’s reasonable to take a look at all water uses.”

Walmart and Nestle Pillaging California’s Water Supply For Profit

By Claire Bernish
In the midst of an exceptional drought in California, Nestle is not only refusing to stop bottling water, but if the head of the company had his way, production would increase.
Nestle Waters North America CEO Tim Brown has decided to put profit over people in the face of devastatingly arid conditions that have caused one water company to begin rationing its supply. Starbucks has already halted its bottling in the state, but when Brown was asked in a radio interview if Nestle would follow suit, well, his reply says it all: Absolutely not. In fact, if I could increase it, I would. The fact is, if I stop bottling water tomorrow, people would buy another brand of bottled water. People need to hydrate. As the second largest bottler in the state, we’re filling a role many others are filling. It’s driven by consumer demand it’s driven by an on-the-go society that needs to hydrate. Frankly, we’re very happy they are doing it in a healthier way.


The outrage over the bottling of California water by Nestlé, Walmart and other big corporations during a record drought has become viral on social media and national and international media websites over the past couple of months.

On May 20, people from across the state converged on two Nestlé bottling plants - one in Sacramento and the other in Los Angeles - demanding that the Swiss-based Nestlé corporation halt its bottling operations during the state's record drought.

Wednesday's protest, led by the California-based Courage Campaign, was the third in Sacramento over the past year. The first two protests were "shut downs" this March and last October organized by the Crunch Nestlé Alliance. For my report on the March protest, go to: .

For over an hour Wednesday, over 50 protesters held signs and marched as they chanted, "Hey hey, ho ho, Nestlé Waters has got to go," "Water is a human right! Don't let Nestlé win this fight," and "Keep our water in the ground, Nestle Waters get out of town."

An eight-foot-long banner at the Sacramento protest read: "Nestlé, 515,000 people say leave California's precious water in the ground," referring to the total number of signatures on the petitions.

At the protests, activists delivered the 515,000 signatures from people in California and around the nation who signed onto a series of petitions to Nestlé executives, Governor Brown, the California State Water Resources Control Board and the U.S. Forest Service urging an immediate shutdown of Nestlé's bottling operations across the state.

The petitions were circulated by Courage Campaign,, CREDO, Corporate Accountability International, Avaaz, Food & Water Watch, Care2, and Daily Kos.

In Sacramento, local activists and residents joined residents from San Francisco and Oakland who took a bus protest outside Nestlé's bottling plant at 8670 Younger Creek Drive. View photos from the Sacramento protest here:[email protected]/sets/72157653159511042bottling in California.

Jessica Lopez, the Chair of the Concow Maidu Tribe, participated in the protest with her daughter, Salvina Adeline Santos Jesus Lopez.

"I stand here in solidarity with everybody here demanding the protection of our water rights," said Lopez. "Nestle needs to stop bottling water during this drought. Why have they obtained their current permits to pump city water?"

Tim Molina, Strategic Campaign Organizer for the California-based Courage Campaign, said to the crowd, "Today we are saying enough is enough. With people across California doing their part to conserve water -- it's time that Nestlé did the right thing and put people over profits - by immediately halting their water bottling operations across the State."

"If Nestlé won't do what's right to protect California's precious water supply, it is up to Governor Brown and the California Water Resource Control Boards to step in and stop this blatant misuse of water during our State's epic drought," he said.

"Bottling public water for private profit doesn't make sense for communities and it doesn't make sense for the environment," said Sandra Lupien, Western Region Communications Manager at Food & Water Watch, also at the protest in Sacramento. "During a historic drought crisis, it is utter madness to allow corporations like Nestlé to suck our dwindling groundwater and sell it for thousands of times what it pays. Putting a halt to water bottling in California is a no-brainer and Governor Jerry Brown must stand up to protect Californians' public resource."

After the activists gave the petitions to Nestlé representatives at the Sacramento plant, the Nestlé supervisor presented the organizers with a letter from Tim Brown, President and CEO of Nestlé Waters North America, responding to a letter from the Courage Campaign.

Brown wrote, "Keep in mind that beverages consumed in California but not bottled in the state must be shipped a longer distance, which has its own drawbacks, such as the environmental impact of transportation. Sourcing water in California provides water with a lower carbon footprint, which has a beneficial environmental impact. The entire bottled industry accounts for 0.02 percent of the annual water used in California."

The company said it also would like to engage in "thoughtful dialogue" with the water bottling opponents.

"We appreciate the opportunity to engage in thoughtful dialogue - and in meaningful action - to address California's water challenges. We would welcome the opportunity to speak with you - in person or over the phone - to advance our shared desire for a more sustainable California. We are hopeful that the public discussion we are all engaged in around water use - including your efforts - leads to positive collective action."

In 2014, Nestlé Waters used about 50 million gallons from the Sacramento municipal water supply to produce "Nestlé Pure Life Purified Drinking Water" and for other plant operations, according to a statement from Nestlé Waters. To read the city of Sacramento's responses to my questions about the Nestlé bottling plant's use of city water, go to: )

Nestlé Waters is not the only corporation bottling Sacramento water during the drought. A report on CBS TV earlier this month revealed that Walmart bottled water also comes from the city of Sacramento's drinking water supply. ( )

In Los Angeles, local activists and residents were joined by people from Orange County and Long Beach who took buses to protest outside Nestlé's bottling plant at 1560 East 20th Street.

The representatives from consumer, environmental and human rights groups who participated in the protest, like at the protest in Sacramento, blasted the corporation for making millions off bottled water during the drought when urban users are seeing increasing restrictions on their water use.

"As California's water supplies dry up, Nestlé continues to make millions selling bottled water and that's outrageous!" explained Liz McDowell, campaigner for "We've stood up to Nestlé exploiting natural resources for profit in the past everywhere from Pakistan to Canada, and now the global community is speaking out before California runs completely dry."

The Desert Sun recently reported that Nestlé was bottling water in desert and drought-stricken areas of California and selling it for a big profit, even though its permit for water pipelines and wells in the San Bernardino National Forest had expired in 1988. Nestlé currently extracts water from at least a dozen natural springs in California for its Arrowhead and Pure Life brands.( )

A majority of people in the U.S. believe Nestlé should stop bottling in California, according to a recent poll. However, in spite of the increasing public outcry, Nestlé CEO Tim Brown, when asked about the controversy, said he wished the corporation could bottle more water from California.

When asked in an interview with KPCC radio if he would stop bottling water in the state, Brown replied, "Absolutely not. In fact, if I could increase it, I would."

Zack Malitz, Campaign Manager at CREDO Action, accused Nestlé of "profiteering at the expense of the public interest."

"In the midst of an historic drought with no end in sight, it is wildly irresponsible for Nestlé to extract vast amounts of California's water," said Malitz.

"For decades, Nestlé has demonstrated a blatant disregard for local communities and the environment," said Erin Diaz, the campaign director at Corporate Accountability International's Think Outside the Bottle campaign. "In response to community concerns about its backdoor political dealings and environmental damage, Nestle has poured millions into PR and greenwashing campaigns. But Nestle's money can't wash away its abysmal track record, and Californians are demanding an end to Nestle's abusive practices."

John Tye, Campaign Director, Avaaz, concluded, "Families across the American West are already paying a steep price for mismanagement and scandalous selloffs of public resources. It's time for California, and Governor Brown, to set a strong example for conservation and responsive regulation. Tens of thousands of people across the country are tired of watching companies like Nestlé profit at the expense of the taxpayers."

The protests take place as Governor Jerry Brown continues to push his plan to construct two massive tunnels under the Delta, potentially the most environmentally destructive protect in California history. The twin tunnels would divert massive quantities of water from the Sacramento River to be used by corporate agribusiness interests irrigating drainage impaired land on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, as well as to Southern California water agencies and oil companies conducting fracking and steam injection operations.

The construction of the tunnels would hasten the extinction of winter-run Chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead, Delta and longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other imperiled fish species, as well as threaten the salmon and steelhead populations on the Trinity and Klamath rivers.

But the tunnels plan is just one of the many environmentally destructive policies of the Brown administration. Governor Brown has presided over record water exports and fish kills at the Delta pumping facilities promotes the expansion of fracking in California pursues water policies that have driven Delta smelt, winter-run Chinook salmon and other fish species closer to extinction and authorized the completion of questionable "marine protected areas" created under the helm of a big oil lobbyist during the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative. ( )

The groups are now urging everybody to sign the pledge by Daily Kos, Courage Campaign and Corporate Accountability International: Do not drink bottled water from Nestlé:

This is the text of the pledge to Nestlé Corporation:

"I pledge to choose tap water instead of buying the following Nestlé products: Acqua Panna, Arrowhead, Deer Park, Ice Mountain, Nestea, Nestlé Pure Life, Ozarka, Perrier, Poland Spring, Resource, S. Pellegrino, Sweet Leaf, Tradewinds and Zephyrhills."

Nestlé Given Green Light to Continue Bottling & Profiting from National Forest Water

(UR) California — A California federal judge just gave Nestlé the go ahead to continue stealing water from the San Bernardino National Forest.

Nestlé has become infamous for trying to privatize (steal) water from over 50 springs throughout the United States, though residents in the small towns they monopolize have tried fighting back.

In a recent turn for the worse, a federal judge in California just gave the corporation permission to continue drawing water from the San Bernardino National Forest despite holding a permit that expired in 1988.

Activists were hopeful, that on at least one accession, they could stop Nestlé from taking water from drought-stricken California. The Courage Campaign Institute (CCI), the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), and the Story of Stuff Project (SSP) launched a lawsuit in 2015 against the U.S. Forest Service for allowing Nestlé to keep drawing water.

Nestlé has fought similar lawsuits in other areas over their habit of taking water. In some cases, states have tried to take down the mega-corporation by accusing them of false advertising. The company bottles water from some sources that are not spring water, but only a municipal supply, then charges unsuspecting customers for the same water they could get out of their taps.

In this case, a large stainless steel pipeline takes the forest’s water in an environmentally fragile canyon to a holding tank, where it is bottled under the Arrowhead brand, a subsidiary of Nestlé. CCI and CBD maintained in court documents that Nestlé needed an actual permit, not just the application for a permit in order to keep siphoning off water.

In 2015 alone, the corporation withdrew 36 million gallons of water from Strawberry Creek in the National Forest, paying $524 annually for a permit, which National Forest Service officials say is in force, though the permit expired in 1988.

With the new judgment, Nestlé has been given carte blanche to continue pilfering water by the National Forest Service — an institution that is supposed to protect forests, never mind humanity’s right to potable water.

Gary Earney is retired from the forest service, but says he believes Nestlé is trying to corner the market on potable water to sell it.

Michael O’Heaney, executive director of The Story of Stuff, says the license should be considered legally invalid as it has expired, and attests that Nestle is operating with little or no scrutiny.

These groups were hopeful that the federal courts would finally put Nestlé out on their ear, but Nestlé maintains that they have the right to continue withdrawing water because, “The Arrowhead brand has been bottled here for 121 years, based on the most senior water rights under Californian law. These date back before the creation of the San Bernardino National Forest (SBNF). Our current, valid permit with the USFS only relates to a right-of-way that allows our water pipeline to cross forest land.”

The company also suggests that the Forest Service has no authority over their right to extract water from the San Bernardino Forest, and that the “State Water Resources Control Board is exclusively authorized to regulate the state’s surface water.”

Though the company makes billions off of selling a natural resource back to people in plastic bottles that currently choke our oceans, they maintain that they only take 10 percent of the flow at Strawberry Canyon, where their pipeline is located.

When Nestlé Chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe was asked if he believes water is a human right he said that, “Yes, water is a human right, but water isn’t free.” Apparently, if you are a mega-corporation like Nestlé, it comes pretty darned close.

What You Can Do

Okay Green Monsters, it is clear that Tim Brown isn’t going to do anything to halt the damage that’s being done to California’s water supplies any time soon, so it’s up to us to step in. First and foremost, if you haven’t already, STOP purchasing plastic water bottles. Pick up a reusable one and it will not only save you money in the long-run, it will also save your conscience and end your support of Nestlé. Secondly, cutting your consumption of meat and dairy products can go a very long way in terms of lowering your water footprint. Did you know that by skipping one gallon of milk, you can save the same amount of water as you would by not showering for a month? If you were to give up meat for a year, you could save 162, 486 gallons of water!

Now that’s quite the impact.

Watch the video: NESTLE presentation


  1. Funsani

    Please forgive me for interrupting you.

  2. Farrell

    Thanks for this post. I've been reading you for a long time and I like everything.

  3. Dickson

    Funny situation

  4. Thieny

    What words ... super, wonderful phrase

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