The US Forest Service is being sued by an environmental group claiming that it allowed Neslte to illegally bottle millions of gallons of water from California’s San Bernardino National Forest.
California is in an extreme drought that is having a huge impact on many of its residents, farmers, and ecosystems. For decades, Nestle has had the rights to bottle water that comes from the Strawberry Creek within San Bernardino National Forest, but an investigation in March 2015 found that the company’s permit to use a four-mile pipeline that transports the water to the bottling plant expired in 1988.
This permit is one of hundreds that has been allowed by the Forest Service to fall out-of-date in California. An analysis of 1,108 water-related permits shows that 616 permits, or 56% of the total, are past their expiration dates. This means that 56% of permits are unlawfully using California’s water sources.
The Center for Biological Diversity, the Story of Stuff Project, and Courage Campaign Institute are all calling on the Forest Service to immediately shut down the use of this pipeline and conduct an environmental review of the company. By allowing the bottling operation to continue, even though the lack of sufficient water is already harming local habitats and wildlife, the Forest Service is breaking its own policies. Policies that were meant to ensure the protection of the forest and its inhabitance.
The defendants named in the suit include Regional Forester Randy Moore and San Bernardino National Forest Supervisor Jody Noiron.
Reports indicate that water levels at Strawberry Creek are at an all-time-low and yet in exchange for allowing Nestle continue to siphon water from the creek, the Forest Service only receives around $524 a year.
When asked if Nestle would stop bottling California water, the CEO, Tim Brown, refused. The company has 5 California bottling plants that take 1.9 million gallons of water per day. The company permit is being reviewed by the Forest Service. Nearly 25 million gallons from the national forest were bottled last year, that’s an average of 68,000 gallons a day.
The removal of water from the ecosystem is harming the habitat of several species of already threatened animals ranging from the mountain yellow-legged frogs to birds such as willow flycatchers and California spotted owls. Big corporations like Nestle should not be allowed to use water on public land for profit. The exploitation of California’s water for corporate gain is not only destroying fragile ecosystems, but it is also exacerbating California’s historical drought crisis.
Ariana Marisol is a contributing staff writer for REALfarmacy.com. She is an avid nature enthusiast, gardener, photographer, writer, hiker, dreamer, and lover of all things sustainable, wild, and free. Ariana strives to bring people closer to their true source, Mother Nature. She is currently finishing her last year at The Evergreen State College getting her undergraduate degree in Sustainable Design and Environmental Science. Follow her adventures on Instagram.
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