Nestle would like you to believe they’re a “good corporate citizen” — one that monitors the health of the aquifers it plunders and gives back to its communities.
Which makes you wonder exactly how it was they mined water from a National Park — under a permit that expired in 1988 — 27 years ago.
(No, that’s not a typo.)
Nestle Waters North America holds a longstanding right to use this water from the national forest near San Bernardino. But the U.S. Forest Service hasn’t been keeping an eye on whether the taking of water is harming Strawberry Creek and the wildlife that depends on it. In fact, Nestle’s permit to transport water across the national forest expired in 1988. It hasn’t been reviewed since, and the Forest Service hasn’t examined the ecological effects of drawing tens of millions of gallons each year from the springs.
Even with California deep in drought, the federal agency hasn’t assessed the impacts of the bottled water business on springs and streams in two watersheds that sustain sensitive habitats in the national forest. The lack of oversight is symptomatic of a Forest Service limited by tight budgets and focused on other issues, and of a regulatory system in California that allows the bottled water industry to operate with little independent tracking of the potential toll on the environment.
Nestle would like you to believe this is just a paperwork snafu, but in the same article, retired Forest Service Biologist Steve Loe had this to say:
“They’re taking way too much water. That water’s hugely important,” said Steve Loe, a biologist who retired from the Forest Service in 2007. “Without water, you don’t have wildlife, you don’t have vegetation.”
The Desert Sun’s article covers a lot of ground, including the usual Nestlespeak, which suggests everything is peachy with Nestle’s water-taking operations — despite the fact the state is in the grip of a record drought, and Nestle’s water use is increasing.
You simply have to wonder — in a state gripped by drought, why is the Forest Service selling water to a bottling company at all?
The habitat is very delicate, and there’s no way Nestle can argue that removing water from a drought-stricken habitat doesn’t affect fish and wildlife.
And what does the public get for allowing Nestle to plunder this precious resource?
$524. A year.