Over the last year Nestle’s unregulated bottling operations have been under fire for their careless uses of water during California’s record drought. Some of the grievances include:
-Draining water from Sacramento’s aquifers.
-Continuing to pump water from California on an expired permit.
-Paying next to nothing for the water they pump, then selling it back to the people with a 1000% mark up on the price.
-California residents expected to conserve water and can be fined for not doing so, the same rules do not apply to bottling plants
Nestle has been pumping water from San Bernardino mountains with a permit that expired in 1988. Nestle spokeswoman Jane Lazgin claims the permit has remained in good standing with the forestry service. The U.S forestry service commented that they would make it a priority to reassess the permit, this could take upwards to two years. In the meantime Nestle hasn’t halted the pumping operations.
To make matters worse the California water board doesn’t regulate the water used by bottling plants. This is a problem mainly due to the fact that there are roughly 100 bottling plants in California. The California water board regulate ground water usage for public and commercial consumers. This excludes water bottling plants. There have been past attempts to pass legislation that would require bottling plants to report how much water they are bottling. However this legislation was vetoed by former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and more resent efforts have not been fruitful.
Within the last year there has been an overwhelming outcry from California residence which has produced a number of action’s by various groups such as The Essence of Life project, and Crunch Nestle Alliance to name a few. Since October 2014 there has been three lock downs on Sacramento’s Nestle Pure Life bottling plant. The last lock down also included the Alhambra facility right next door to Nestle and the protesters show no signs of slowing down with future events in the works.
Other company’s such as Starbucks owners of Ethos water are feeling the pressure of public scrutiny. Once it was revealed by Mother Jones that Ethos water was being bottled out of Baxter springs just north of Merced county and water out of the Merced water supply. Both areas have been affected by California’s drought now in its fourth year. l after the Mother Jones article Starbucks announced they would be moving the bottling operation to Pennsylvania citing concerns over the drought. Within six months time Starbucks plans to have the operation moved to it Pennsylvania plant, which supply’s Ethos water to the east coast. While Ethos is moving their operations out-of-state one would think Nestle would be the next to follow there lead, but they are not. If fact Nestle is always looking for opportunity’s to expand there California operations.
These events have drawn international attention to the issue and helped the cause gain an overwhelming amount of support. It’s also helped create a dialog on this very important subject. No matter what side you’re on in this debate one thing is clear, when company’s like Nestle are allowed to go unregulated, they will almost certainly abuse this privilege.