(JD Heyes) Drought-shaming in California – the calling out, usually via social media, of neighbors and others who break water-use rules – has become quite prevalent as the state continues to suffer through a historic drought. But not everyone is getting shamed equally.
As reported by TheAntiMedia.com, one company that is getting less than its fair share of shame is Nestle, which, though the giant company has drawn some of the public’s ire, has not received nearly enough “to have spontaneously sprouted a conscience.”
The drought-shaming phenomenon worked well enough for Starbucks to end its bottling of Ethos Water in California altogether, with the coffee company moving its entire operation to Pennsylvania instead.
However, Nestle has simply shrugged off any public outrage of its water-bottling operations in the arid state and has even doubled down by boosting its draw of water from natural springs, even in threatened areas like the San Bernardino National Forest, and despite the fact its permit is grossly out of date.
No current permit
Profit, it seems, is more important to Nestle than doing the civic-minded thing in a state where water resources are fast dwindling.
As TheAntiMedia.com further reported:
Nestle has somehow managed the most sweetheart of deals for its Arrowhead 100% Mountain Spring Water, which is ostensibly sourced from Arrowhead Springs — and which also happens to be located on public land in a national forest.
In 2013, the company drew 27 million gallons of water from 12 springs in Strawberry Canyon for the brand — apparently by employing rather impressive legerdemain — considering the permit to do so expired in 1988.
However, as the company says, that’s no big deal, really, as it has promised to be a good steward of the land, and because the expired permit’s annual fee has been dutifully paid – to the tune of just $524.
TheAntiMedia.com went on to note that Nestle is not merely collecting spring water; the company also used some 51 million gallons of ground water from the same area over the same period of time.
Further, there is an additional site where the company is draining water for profit as the state’s punishing drought endures: Deer Canyon. In 2014, Nestle drew 76 million gallons from springs there, a sizeable increase over 2013’s draw of 56 million gallons, “and under circumstances just as questionable as water collection at Arrowhead,” the alternative news site reported.
Some believe that Nestle’s increasingly voracious draws are having long-term deleterious effects on the state’s ecosystem, along with its endangered and threatened species. However, impact studies are not available because they “were mysteriously stopped before ever getting underway,” TheAntiMedia.com reported.
Indeed, the review process necessary to renew the company’s long-overdue permit has come under similar mysterious termination; once planning stages made apparent the huge costs and complicated steps such a review would involve, it was simply dropped. In a separate story, TheAntiMedia.com reported that the U.S. Forest Service official who gave Nestle authority to drain California water systems went to work for the company.
In 2014, Nestle used about 705 million gallons of water for its operations in California, according to natural resource manager Larry Lawrence. In sum, that amounts to 2,164 acre-feet of water, or enough to irrigate 700 acres of farmland or fill 1,068 Olympic-sized swimming pools, as The Desert Sun newspaper reported.
The paper further noted:
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.
The long-outdated permit has not been reviewed, the paper said, and the Forest Service also “hasn’t examined the ecological effects of drawing tens of millions of gallons each year from the springs.”