This month, Nestle has once again been placed right at the heart of the California megadrought. With the increasingly parched state now in its fourth consecutive year of official ‘drought conditions,’ authorities are starting to panic. According to recent reports, the state is now down by a twelve month supply of water and the Colorado River is running dry.
In fact, since Nestle was first named and shamed, it has actually increased the amount of liquid which it is drawing from the natural springs. The most controversial site is the San Bernardino National Forest, as it has recently been revealed that the company has drawn water from the area without a valid license for almost three decades.
Yet, Nestle has, thus far, refused to stop bottling water in the thirsty region – even Starbucks has now admitted the dubiousness of drawing for bottled drinks from natural springs, but Nestle will simply not back down. In essence, it seems to be waging a one man water war for the right to condemn a whole state and the people who live there.
Uncovering the Extent of the Problem
Plus, Nestle is also drawing a huge amount of water from Arrowhead Springs, for use in its bottled Arrowhead Mountain Spring Water. The springs in question happen to be situated on public ground, within the bounds of a publicly accessible national forest and parkland. If it is starting to sound a little confusing to you too, do not worry – there are plenty of people out who are also having trouble understanding why this has been allowed to happen.
In 2013, the company extracted a whopping 27 million gallons of water from a total of twelve springs in Strawberry Canyon. Once again, you have to give them credit for audacity – the license allowing it to do so ran out twenty five years ago. If you were to ask Nestle for their opinion on this matter, however (as many have done), you would get the same tired old answer.
The company staunchly swears that it takes great care of all the environments which it extracts from and that it has always kept up with annual license payments, even during the lapsed periods. Unfortunately, the sum only comes to $524, so Nestle might need to have a bit of a whip round if it thinks license payments are going to help the state right now.
Charting the Impact on the Environment
This is not the end of the story either, because Nestle draws a further 51 gallons of water from yet another site in California. In 2014, it not only collected groundwater from the aforementioned sites, it also drew 76 million gallons of water from the springs in Deer Canyon. This is a significant increase on the draw from 2013, which stood at a lowly 56 million gallons.
It is hard to imagine that the removal of so much water could not have a harmful impact on the ecosystems in these regions, especially if you take into account the huge number of diverse species which still reside there. Yet, we cannot know for sure because all of the environmental surveys scheduled for the region were roundly dismissed before ever getting off the ground – with no clear explanation yet as to why or on whose orders the review was dropped.
It is interesting to note that a similar fate met attempts to renew the ludicrously out of date Nestle licenses. The process reached the planning phases and a ballpark figure for renewal was thrown about and then, suddenly, there was no more talk of any kind of renewal at all. At present, there are no official plans to make changes to the invalidated licenses – though the authorities are keen to point out that the matter is still open for evaluation and the Colorado River drought continues to worsen.
Working Out How to Make Things Right
It seems the only publicly oppositional action being taken against Nestle right now is a call for a boycott from activists and campaigners. They are asking that consumers stay away from Nestle Water and all other Nestle products until the company is brought to account for its questionable practices in California. In 2014, Nestle utilized around 705 million gallons of water for its bottling requirements in the state.
Whilst there is no sure fire way to specific precisely how much Nestle has to invest to manufacture just one bottle of Arrowhead Spring water, it is clear that the company is making a massive amount of profit. We will be bringing you all of the news on the megadrought in California and any developments associated with Nestle and the water wars.