By: Emma Jablonski
Summary. Nestle has been siphoning water from a southern California watershed in San Bernardino forest, and selling it through their Arrowhead Brand bottled water. The company itself states, “For more than 125 years, BlueTriton Brands and its predecessors have sustainably collected water from Arrowhead Springs in Strawberry Canyon. We take pride in being good stewards of the environment, while providing an excellent product loved by Californians.” Nestle has had rights to California spring water since the year 1865, but many California officials have been accusing Nestle of taking more water in the forest than they are permitted to. While these accusations took place in April of 2021, It didn’t help the situation when California had confirmed a drought emergency in two counties already. Environmental groups and local communities have said that Nestle’s water usage will have a negative impact on both local ecosystems and communities as the droughts and wildfires continue to worsen in California. They also argue that water shouldn’t be sold in plastic packaging, contributing to an already accelerating waste crisis. Another investigation took place in 2015, where the US Forest Service allowed Nestle to siphon forest water with a permit that expired in 1988. In 2018, Nestle was given a three year permit but in turn they had to follow Water Rights and state laws. Nestle could have also been fined around $500-1,000 a day, for everyday that they’ve taken water since 2018. As of now though, no penalties or fines have been put in place for the company.
Why we should care? I think we should care about this topic at hand because it's important for us as consumers to know where any type of bottled water we buy is sourced from, if it's having a negative environmental impact on its ecosystem.
I found this article interesting because Nestle is taking water from a forest that's already suffering from droughts and has a high risk of wildfire. It's no doubt that this would make those conditions worse. I was also surprised to learn that water board officials said Nestle is only allowed to take about 2.4 million gallons of surface water every year, but the company itself stated that they collected 59 million gallons of water from the system in 2020. I'm not sure how they get away with that, but it's crazy to hear how much water they're actually taking.
Science in Action.
Victor Vasquez is the head senior engineer of water rights enforcement at California Water Resources Control Board.
I was unsuccessful in finding an actual scientist who researches the topic of Nestle taking water from California, but there are many legal experts in the field. Victor Vasquez is an engineer at the California Water Resources Control Board that deals with situations like these ones. State regulators found that Nestle is entitled to a total of 26 acre-feet that includes surface water and groundwater. Vasquez and his team have found that Nestle has been taking unauthorized water as much as 152 acre-feet. As of now, Vasquez's team has successfully kept them within that 26 acre-feet limit, even though Nestle claims they have more.
I had no idea that Nestle sourced one of their bottled water brands from a watershed in California. Reading this was both interesting but also very concerning. It is a shame that some companies do not take into account the level of environmental impact there could be if they take more water than they are supposed to. California has a common drought problem and Nestle is contributing to that which is frustrating. Especially because with these droughts, California has been experiencing terrible wildfires which are detrimental to the environment. Nestle definitely needs to make a change.
Completely disheartening that large companies are getting away with taking taking water and sourcing it from a source such as a watershed. As if its a commodity that will never deplete. That water from the watershed could be more beneficial to use in cases of wildfires and extreme drought versus to package and distribute for profit. I hope environmental lawyers continue to put pressure on Nestle to pay back the National Forest what they're owed in "backpay" of water usage.
I wonder why the government has not taken any action towards punishing nestle. It seems like many different agencies have contacted them, but are letting them get away with siphoning the spring water for profit. We need better laws to protect our watersheds!
lol forgot my last name, sorry- Rochelle Durand
I think it is surprising the California government has not done more to prevent or slow down the amount of water being taken due to the history of drought in California and the desperate need for water. I feel like if Nestle really wanted water to use they could choose a much more water rich region than the drought stricken California. In the future I expect stricter regulations will be put in place for water bottling companies.
It is sickening how big corporations like Nestle care more about profit than environmental impact. I also can't believe how they claim to be environmentally efficient when they know they are taking water from an already drought stricken forest. I wish it were easier to boycott big companies like Nestle so they would actually change, but just like what we saw with Dupont, it's very difficult to make a difference when you're up against a powerhouse. I hope this information becomes more public so that people will stop buying Nestle products.
Nestle is known to be a selfish company that will put profit in front of everything, including environmental impact. I am not shocked to hear that they are also depleting the water in an area that has been confirmed as a drought area. Unfortunately, Nestle probably won't face any repercussions from using this water, as they seem to get away with a lot of questionable tactics without any trouble. Nestle's behaviors need to be investigated for sustainability and there needs to be a focus on regulating them to be environmentally friendly.
I hate seeing how companies like Nestle can get away with destroying environments and taking water away from areas especially ones that regularly suffer from droughts and forest fires. And companies like that will keep getting away with it.
I think its interesting that nestle is not being fined by the united states forest service, maybe they found some incentive to allow nestle to take the surface water and spring water from the area. I would think that any money received from nestle would not out weigh the damage that over using an aquifer could do to the ecosystem and other people that rely on that water. I also know that even before the recent string of wild fires in California there was concern over farmers using too much water and overusing certain aquifers. Those farmers adapted more sustainable practices to preserve those aquifers, maybe nestle should be made to do the same.
It is very sad to hear about things like this happening in an already drought ridden area. I thought Nestle only drew from an aquifer in Michigan, which shows the little amount of knowledge that is out there about bottled water companies because they want to keep their secrets hidden. California ecosystems are being damaged at such a high rate and I had no idea that it could be affected more by this.
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