California to Nestlé: Stop Draining Our Water

Nestlé Ice Mountain brand water bottles

By Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer

As California’s drought conditions are worsening, Nestlé is pumping millions of gallons of water from the San Bernardino forest. State water officials have drafted a cease-and-desist order to force the company to stop overpumping from Strawberry Creek, which provides drinking water for about 750,000 people. Nestlé took 58 million gallons of spring water last year — significantly more than the 2.3 million gallons they could claim, The Guardian reports. The bottled water company pays a measly $2,100 annual permit fee to the U.S. Forest Service and then is allowed to withdraw the water for free.  “We have a limited amount of water,” Julé Rizzardo, the assistant deputy director of the Division of Water Rights, told The Guardian. “And as we face our second dry year in a row, it’s important that we use our authority to protect the municipal water supply and the environment.” 

Why This Matters: It’s not the first time other states have also tried to reign in Nestlé for its water grabs. And, there are layers to the harm caused by Nestlé taking spring water and selling it in plastic bottles: with most of the Western U.S. facing drought, Nestlé’s actions could be dangerous. Plus, overdrawing water harms the plant and animal life in the watershed, from forest trees to mountain lions. Not to mention all the plastic used.  The company could owe as much as $10,000 a day in fines – only a drop in the bucket of its coffers.

Nestlé’s Harm Goes Beyond California

Across the country, Nestlé has a reputation for wrecking water systems for tiny annual fees, and “conservationists have accused Nestlé of leveraging vast lobbying funds to bend local and federal officials to its will,” The Guardian writes

  • In Florida, Nestlé recently had a permit approved to pump nearly 1 million gallons of water a day from Ginnie Springs, one of the state’s freshwater springs, even as reports show that the Santa Fe River system it is a part of is in decline because of pumping. 
  • In Michigan, Nestlé pays a $200 paperwork fee to pump 576,000 gallons of groundwater per day from the headwaters of two cold-water trout streams. 

Up Next

Climate Protesters Held Marches All Over France on Sunday

It’s spring in Paris, they are still struggling with COVID, and yet thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in Paris and numerous other French cities to protest climate change.  The French legislature is considering a law to impose tougher measures to combat climate change, but many believe the proposals are not sufficient and so they staged marches in Nancy, Toulouse, Rennes, Lyon, Grenoble, as seen in social media posts.

Why This Matters:  Because of the Paris Agreement, France is associated with climate change progress.

Continue Reading 424 words
Climate Report Card: Biden’s First 100 Days

Climate Report Card: Biden’s First 100 Days

by Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer In the Biden administration’s first 100 days, the climate crisis and environmental issues have been at the forefront of the administration’s agenda. As Environment America writes in their progress report, “despite the need to rebuild many federal agencies and tackle the COVID-19 crisis, the Biden administration has already taken […]

Continue Reading 364 words
Maine’s Lakes on Thin Ice

Maine’s Lakes on Thin Ice

The ice-out date for Maine’s Lake Auburn is now three weeks earlier than it was two centuries ago, the Portland Press Herald reports, and other lakes across New England show similar trends. Climate change is not good for ice, and that includes Maine’s lakes that freeze over every winter. 

Why This Matters: A disrupted winter with lakes that “defrost” earlier has multiple knock-on effects for freshwater: in addition to harming fish in lakes, the resulting large cyanobacteria algae blooms that form can be harmful to human health.

Continue Reading 479 words

Want the planet in your inbox?

Subscribe to the email that top lawmakers, renowned scientists, and thousands of concerned citizens turn to each morning for the latest environmental news and analysis.