Story at a glance:
- California officials sent Nestlé a cease-and-desist order as drought conditions worsen in the state.
- Nestlé says its rights to California’s water goes back to 1865.
- The company could face fines of $1,000 to $10,000 a day.
In response to worsening drought conditions in California, water officials want to restrict Nestlé from drawing millions of gallons of water from the San Bernardino forest.
The Guardian reported that officials sent a draft cease-and-desist order to Nestlé, which has allegedly drained far more water supplies than allowed — at the expense of local communities and environments.
The California Water Resources Control Board has to approve the cease-and-desist order.
State officials have already sent a letter warning Nestlé about the imminent notice on Friday.
Nestlé was going to siphon the water for its bottled waters, which it has the legal right to do in California since 1865. However, proven accusations have said the company has been draining more water from local communities and ecosystems like Strawberry Creek — which supplies three-quarters of a million residents and serves deer, foxes and mountain lions — than it is entitled to for years.
An investigation conducted in 2017 shows that Nestlé drew about 58 million gallons of water when it was supposed to be 2.3 million gallons, meaning Nestlé stole 25 times the amount of water it should not have.
“We have a limited amount of water,” Julé Rizzardo, the assistant deputy director of the Division of Water Rights, said. “And as we face our second dry year in a row, it’s important that we use our authority to protect the municipal water supply and the environment.”
It is not just from California that Nestlé has been taking more than its share. Other states like Oregon, Pennsylvania, Maine and Michigan are trying to restrict Nestlé.
The root cause of Nestlé’s unfair practices comes from local and federal officials accepting lobbying funds, The Guardian reported.
“The forests that Nestlé is draining – they’re our forests, supported by every US taxpayer,” Amanda Frye, a Strawberry Creek activist who shared with state officials documents and research, said. She has detailed records of how many times Nestlé did not have the right to drain water.
“But we still have a long way to go in protecting the forest from over-pumping,” she said. “It’s such a lovely ecosystem, and it’s doubly under threat due to climate change. I hope that if Nestlé stops pumping, the environment will be able to heal.”
If the cease-and-desist order is approved, Nestlé North American, also known as BlueTriton, could be fined up to $1,000 a day, or up to $10,000 a day if a drought is declared in the area.
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