Nestle’s California Water Supply Chain Under Fire

Nestle arrowhead

You may have read about Nestle recently in the news. The food company has admitted to using slave labor in Thailand in its seafood supply chain. However, the food giant is also under fire here in the U.S. for its water supply chain operations in California.

California-based nonprofits Courage Campaign and The Story of Stuff Project, along with the Center for Biological Diversity, based in Arizona, said Nestle is unlawfully taking water from the San Bernardino National Forest for its Arrowhead bottled-water brand. The groups said Nestle’s federal permit for the operations expired in 1988, yet the U.S. Forest Service never issued or renewed a special use permit for the company.

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In October, the groups filed suit against the USFS. On Nov. 30, they filed a motion for summary of judgement, asking a federal court to rule on the case. Nestle has a 4-mile pipeline on USFS land, which the groups are asking the court to shut down. They also want the USFS to conduct a proper environmental review of Nestle operations on the forest land and other proper permitting review processes.  

“Riparian and aquatic habitat in the San Bernardino National Forest is suffering from extended drought exacerbated by Nestle’s diversion of water diversion through pipelines and facilities it maintains on the Forest despite the expired permit,” the groups said in a press release issued Nov. 30. “Permit renewal requires the Forest Service to undertake environmental reviews that would likely result in greater protections for the habitat in the San Bernardino National Forest than provided under the expired permit.”

The groups also pointed to the ongoing drought in California as reason for the USFS to take action on Nestle operations.

According to Nestle, the company’s operations in the San Bernardino National Forest are not illegal. While it does not have an active permit, its permit to operate on the public land is awaiting approval by the USFS — “one of hundreds,” Nestle’s website stated. The company says the USFS has given it permission to continue operations on the land as the permit renewal process is pending.

The groups behind the recent suit argue, however, that the USFS’ action allowing Nestle to continue operations without a valid permit is “illegal” and violates the Federal Land Policy and Management Act.

Please follow Kaitlyn McAvoy on Twitter @KMcAvoySM


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