Protests erupt at Nestlé bottling plants in Sacramento and L.A.

nestle protestEarlier this week, local California activists and concerned residents led protests against Nestlé at bottling plants located in Los Angeles and Sacramento. A joint press release stated Wednesday:

At the protests, in Los Angeles and Sacramento, activists delivered more than 500,000 signatures from people in California and around the country who signed onto a series of urgent petitions to Nestlé executives, Governor Brown, the California State Water Resources Control Board,  and the U.S. Forest Service urging an immediate shutdown of Nestlé’s bottling operations across the state.

“With people across California doing their part to conserve water — it’s time that Nestlé did the right thing and put people over profits — by immediately halting their water bottling operations across the State,” wrote Tim Molina in a press release. He is the strategic campaign organizer for the California-based Courage Campaign. “If Nestlé won’t do what’s right to protect California’s precious water supply, it is up to Governor Brown and the California Water Resource Control Boards to step in and stop this blatant misuse of water during our state’s epic drought.”

The Desert Sun conducted an investigation on bottling practices in March and found that Nestlé has been operating on a permit that expired back in 1988. The findings continue as follows:

[blockquote style=”3″]

  • “No state agency is tracking exactly how much water is used by all of the bottled water plants in California, or monitoring the effects on water supplies and ecosystems statewide. The California Department of Public Health regulates 108 bottled water plants in the state, collecting information on water quality and the sources tapped. But the agency says it does not require companies to report how much water they use.
  • “That information, when collected piecemeal by state or local agencies, often isn’t easily accessible to the public. In some cases, the amounts of water used are considered confidential and not publicly released.
  • “Even as Nestle Waters has been submitting required reports on its water use, the Forest Service has not been closely tracking the amounts of water leaving the San Bernardino National Forest and has not assessed the impacts on the environment.
  • “While the Forest Service has allowed Nestle to keep using an expired permit for nearly three decades, the agency has cracked down on other water users in the national forest. Several years ago, for instance, dozens of cabin owners were required to stop drawing water from a creek when their permits came up for renewal. Nestle has faced no such restrictions.
  • “Only this year, after a group of critics raised concerns in letters and after The Desert Sun inquired about the expired permit, did Forest Service officials announce plans to take up the issue and carry out an environmental analysis.”[/blockquote]

nestlepurelife logo hrA recent poll by Forbes noted that 65 percent of Americans believe that Nestlé “should stop using California water to create bottled water.”

But Bruce Maiman from the Sacramento Bee reported Nestlé uses 80 million gallons per year, in comparison to the 65 trillion gallons of water that the state normally receives. He noted Nestlé’s bottling operations are “troubling” but halting them will likely solve nothing.

Nestlé has responded to harsh criticism in a variety of statements and outlined the impact of their operations in California, stating that the water they source from the state is “used efficiently and effectively, and bottled so that it can be drunk as part of a healthy diet.” The amount of water that Nestlé withdraws is “[l]ess than 0.008 percent of the total.”

“Nearly 50 billion cubic metres (13 trillion gallons) of water is used in California each year. Nestlé uses less than 4 million cubic metres (1 billion gallons) in all its operations. We operate five bottled water plants (out of 108 in the state) and four food plants. Our bottled water plants use around 2.75 million cubic metres (725 million gallons) of water a year.”

Even if Nestlé were to shut down all of its bottling plants in California, “the resulting annual savings would be less than 0.3 percent of the total the governor says the state needs residential and public users to save.”

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