Nestle’s groundwater extraction in the drought-prone Southern California watershed is under fire by environmentalist
The U.S. Forest Service offered Nestle Waters North America a three-year permit to continue drawing water from the San Bernardino National Forest, Calif., in the Strawberry Creek watershed for their Arrowhead bottled water brand. The permit was initially reviewed following a 2015 lawsuit which argued Nestle was operating under a permit that expired in 1988. Nestle pulled 32 million gal of water from the watershed under question in 2016, arguing that it inherited rights to use the water more than a century ago.
Additional controversy over the permit stems from the area’s status as an impaired watershed and the drought-prone Southern California water system. The permit offer includes the stipulation that Nestle is only able to extract when water is available to protect natural resources and could be restricted during drought conditions, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“Californians are passionate about water and so are we,” said a statement from Nestle. “We take our responsibility as a California water steward seriously and Arrowhead’s successful operations for more than a century point to our commitment to long-term sustainability.”
Nestle has 60 days to accept the permit’s terms and, if accepted, the U.S. Forest Service will continue to conduct studies assessing the impact on the watershed.