In this severe ongoing drought, some California groups are trying to stop Nestle from using California water for commercial purposes. Nestle Company is headquartered in Switzerland but is international, with a number of companies including Nestle Waters North America. At least 2 of its water brands, Arrowhead and Pure Life, are bottled from California’s water. Water usage at its 5 California bottling facilities is roughly 705 million gallons of water/year, which is not normally a big deal. In a severe drought, it becomes a bigger deal.
Courage Campaign, a 900,000-member nonprofit organization, is sponsoring a petition to stop Nestle from bottling California water during the drought. The petition is directed to the California Water Resources Control Board and Nestle Executives. To date, Courage Campaign has collected nearly 30,000 signatures. The petition can be accessed here: Courage Campaign Petition
Courage Campaign’s fight is supported by California’s Food & Water Watch, another nonprofit organization that “advocates for common sense policies that will result in healthy, safe food and access to safe and affordable drinking water.”
Nestle Waters North America’s president and CEO, Tim Brown, argues that bottled water is not worsening the drought, as the yearly 705 million gallons of water used by Nestle are “roughly equal to the annual average watering needs of two California golf courses.”
Courage Campaign and Food & Water Watch spokesmen counter that at least some of the water is taken from natural springs and further depletes the already-taxed water reserves of communities hit hard by the drought. Cabazon, a Native-American reservation that is not subject to water agency supervision, is home to one of Nestlé’s bottling facilities. The U.S. Geological Survey found that Cabazon’s groundwater levels have been declining considerably, though Nestlé’s responsibility is unclear.
Furthermore, Food & Water Watch asserts that Nestlé’s bottling processes use 1.39 gallons of water to bottle 1 gallon of water, which is clearly wasting a severely depleted resource. Food & Water Watch’s Director pressed the issue: “This does not constitute reasonable, beneficial use. Allowing a foreign-owned company to bottle our public water and profit on exporting it out of the state is not a good use of our resources.”
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