Nestlé, the company known for its egregious child labor abuse practices, now faces yet another humanitarian problem as activists claim the corporation is bottling 80 million gallons of California water a year and selling it back to the public at a ridiculous profit.
On March 20, protesters gathered at the Nestlé Water Bottling Plant in Sacramento in an effort to shut down the facility. Water activists argued the company is draining 80 million gallons of water from Sacramento’s aquifers while the state remains in a severe drought.
A coalition of activists, Native Americans and other concerned citizens addressed the issue at a press conference on March 17 in Sacramento, “The coalition is protesting Nestlé’s virtually unlimited use of water – up to 80 million gallons a year drawn from local aquifers – while Sacramentans (like other Californians) who use a mere 7 to 10 percent of total water used in the State of California, have had severe restrictions and limitations forced upon them,” the coalition said.
“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,” the coalition continued.
The group has requested to the Sacramento City Council that Nestlé either pay a commercial rate under the two tier level or pay a tax on their profit.
Nestlé's water practices get even more suspicious after The Desert Sun Newspaper investigation revealed the company is draining water from San Bernardino National Forest without a valid permit, and critics say the environmental damage is potentially dangerous and unknown.
"They're taking way too much water. That water's hugely important," said Steve Loe, a former biologist for United States Forest Service. "Without water, you don't have wildlife, you don't have vegetation."
Nestlé's permit expired in 1988, yet the corporation continues to pipe, package and sell the water as Arrowhead 100 percent Mountain Spring Water, a leading brand in the U.S.
To emphasize how little Nestlé actually cares about water usage, the company's chairman, Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, did a video interview in 2013 stating how he believes water should be considered a commodity privatized by corporations rather than a basic human right.
California’s four-year-long drought is in emergency mode and citizens are already feeling the effects. Yet as residents are asked to ration and reduce their water consumption, corporations are allowed to be left unregulated? California is in the midst of a water crisis with one year of water supply left in its reserves, and corporate greed should not take over to make our situation even worse.