US Forest Service faces lawsuit over Nestlé permit to bottle water. The lawsuit has been filed by three environmental groups that are set on protecting water resources in California.
The Story of Stuff Project, the Center for Biological DIversity and the Courage Campaign Institute filed the lawsuit against the US Forest Service based on the fact that the authority had allowed Nestlé to bottle water springing in San Bernardino National Forest, California, despite the company’s permit having expired 27 years back.
Although the groups allege the permit is long overdue, the pipeline siphoning water on a four-mile distance from San Bernardino National Forest to Ontario, California is fully functional. Court documents filed by the three groups, explain how the water sourced in Strawberry Creek is supplying Nestlé’s bottled water sold under the Arrowhead brand.
What the three environmental groups are asking is that Nestlé’s pipeline is shut down. At the same time, the US Forest Service should be ordered to environmentally review all permits for exploitation of resources.
Nestlé bottled 25 to 28 million gallons of water siphoned through this pipeline in 2014 alone, the documentation implies. Despite Nestlé’s permit having expired in 1988, the company is still pumping 68,000 gallons of water daily from the San Bernardino National Forest.
Michael O’Heaney, executive director of Story of Stuff Project, cited by The Hill, reacted:
“We Californians have dramatically reduced our water use over the past year in the face of an historic drought, but Nestlé has refused to step up and do its part. Until the impact of Nestlé’s operation is properly reviewed, the Forest Service must turn off the spigot”.
Nestlé spokesperson Jane Lazgin commented that the company is only now informed the lawsuit and will not comment. However, she added, all operations are legal, the permit being valid as per US Forest Service comments. Nestlé plans to continue using the spigot and pay the pipeline and transportation fees accordingly.
As per the fees and taxes that Nestlé owes, it remains unclear, just as the number of gallons that have actually been siphoned through the pipeline. While company figures indicate between 25 and 28 million gallons of water, figures obtained from the San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District show a different reality. In these documents, Nestlé appear to have used 165 million gallons from 2012 throughout 2014.
The sum paid to the US Forest Service for exploiting the water resources, pipeline fee and transportation amounts to 524 dollars per year. The water bottled under the Arrowhead brand is of course sold for profit.
Photo Credits: Wikimedia