This is unbelievable. An investigation by the Desert Sun newspaper has revealed that the Nestlé corporation has been illegally pumping water out of a Southern California national forest for its bottled water with a permit that expired 27 years ago.1
That means for 27 years, Nestlé -- the largest bottled water producer in the world -- has been profiting by illegally extracting water in one of the most drought-stricken areas in the country, while the U.S. Forest Service -- who issues and oversees these permits -- has been totally asleep at the switch.
The Forest Service must immediately halt Nestlé’s water withdrawals and stop allowing corporate profiteering in the middle of California’s drought.
As the world’s leading bottled water producer, and owner of the Perrier and San Pellegrino brands, Nestlé already has a dismal track record on water conservation and human rights. In 2013, Nestlé was forced to back down after fighting a decision in Ontario, Canada, that would limit its water taking in times of severe drought. That same year, Nestlé’s CEO famously challenged the human right to water.2
No wonder Nestlé has continued to transport water out of the San Bernardino National Forest despite the fact that its permit expired in 1988.
We don’t know how much water Nestlé has been extracting for private profit because in 2009 the company stopped submitting annual reports to local water districts about the groundwater it extracted for its bottled water.3 And furthermore, no agency currently monitors the amount of water Nestlé has been illegally extracting from the San Bernardino National Forest, or its environmental impact.
What we do know is that Nestlé is profiting handsomely by extracting water from public lands. In Sacramento, for example, Nestlé pays the same rates for water as average residential users, and then turns around and sells this water for literally thousands of times more than it pays.4
During a time of increasing drought, this lack of oversight and blatant profiteering at the expense of the public interest is simply inexcusable. Tell the U.S. Forest Service it must immediately stop giving Nestlé a free pass to take our water.