Feds propose 5-year water bottling permit for Nestle in Calif

Federal officials are proposing to give Nestle a new five-year permit to bottle water on federal land in drought-ridden California.

The proposal comes after the Forest Service faced criticisms for allowing Nestle to take millions of gallons of water annually in the San Bernardino National Forest using a permit that should have expired in 1988, but the agency let the company keep bottling water under the permit.

Meanwhile, California’s in the midst of a years-long drought that scientists think is the worst in thousands of years.

The new permit would cover half the time period of the original 10-year permit issued in 1978. It would require Nestle to conduct certain research to determine whether its water extraction and bottling affects creeks and wildlife habitats, and how the hydrology would change without the bottling operation.

The Forest Service, which is part of the Department of Agriculture, said it believes that Nestle’s activities could be affecting a creek in the forest.

The agency is proposing a permit that would only allow water piping “when it is demonstrated by the user, and/or agreed to by the Forest Service, that the water extracted is excess to the current and reasonably foreseeable future needs of forest resources.”