Bottled water has been a bit of a controversial subject in recent years. Not only are vast amounts of fossil fuels consumed in bottled water’s production and transportation, but these bottles are also not being recycled, causing major environmental issues. It’s also less healthy than tap water, since it lacks the minerals and nutrients vital to a person’s health.
Now, one company is making bottled water look even worse. Even though California is doing its best to endure one of the worst droughts in the state’s history, Nestle is continuing to bottle and sell the dehydrated state’s spring water and sell it.
Back in January — as the state entered its third year of drought — Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in order to prepare for the oncoming water shortage, which increased water restrictions throughout the Golden State.
Now, as the water shortage continues, California is likely to enter its driest period in nearly 400 years.
However, Nestle was able to dodge these emergency measures because its plant sits on a Native American reservation, which means the company need not comply with state regulations.
The reservation sits in a Mojave Desert oasis right the San Bernardino’s base, where just three inches of rain falls annually. Drawing water from such a location prevents it from seeping downhill to fill the aquifers drought-stricken towns.
“The reason this particular plant is of special concern is precisely because water is so scarce in the basin. If you had the same bottling plant in a water-rich area, then the amount of water bottled and diverted would be a small fraction of the total water available,” explained water expert Peter Gleick. “But this is a desert ecosystem. Surface water in the desert is exceedingly rare and has a much higher environmental value than the same amount of water somewhere else.”
For the past five years, Nestle hasn’t provided local water districts with the details of how much groundwater is being extracted. The water agency, though, has estimated that Nestle is extracting about 244 million gallons per year, while separate reports from the Morongo tribe show that it’s pumped about 200 million gallons back in 2013, which is enough water for 400 homes.
As reprehensible as the company’s actions are, they could have been seen coming from a mile away considering CEO Peter Brabeck aggressively argued for the privatization of all water supplies, saying that “access to water should not be a public right.”
Perhaps Death and Taxes’ Robyn Pennacchia best hit the nail on the head when she called Nestle a “super, super evil company.”