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California is currently in its fifth year of severe drought, which means all of California remains in a state of emergency. And it’s not just Californians who are impacted, because the state uses its minimal water supply to provide the entire nation with more food than any other state.
Locals, former forest employees, environmental groups, and more have been continuously trying to expose Swiss-based company Nestlé’s reckless behaviour of piping tens of millions of gallons of water out of San Bernardino National Forest annually. From Sacramento alone they take 80 million gallons each year. What’s worse, they are then selling people’s water back to them under the allure of brand names while the state, and consequentially, the nation, suffers the consequences.
The company’s permit to extract water from the park technically expired in 1988, but despite both this legal reality and the ongoing severe drought, they claim totake water management very seriously. So while they write well-articulated responses on their website regarding the issue at hand, many people continue to stand by the fact that it’s absolutely wrong to extract and profit from local waters during a drought.
“Nestlé pays only 65 cents for each 470 gallons it pumps out of the ground – the same rate as an average residential water user. But the company can turn the area’s water around, and sell it back to Sacramento at mammoth profits,” notes a coalition of environmentalists, Native Americans, and other concerned people.
In San Bernardino, the company dishes out a humbling $500 a year to pipe out natural spring water. “This is exactly what happens when water is treated as a commodity and is sold for profit,” explains John Stewart, the Deputy Campaigns Director at the nonprofit Corporate Accountability International. “It is forcing us all as a society to say, ‘Who is providing our water? Is it Nestlé or our own democratically governed towns and cities?’”