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Nestle Reprimanded for Siphoning Water From Drought Stricken San Bernardino National Forest

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California is famous for the looming threat of earthquakes and the massive San Andreas Fault which runs for hundreds of miles near some of the most densely populated areas in the country. In recent years, California has faced a more elemental danger. Since 2011, California has been in the midst of a sustained drought. At the height of the drought in June 2015, Gov. Jerry Brown instituted 25 percent water restrictions, although this was lifted in April 2017 after an unusually wet winter refilled local reservoirs.  

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The inundation may have temporarily ended the drought, but the resulting verdant growth has been a mixed blessing. The plants that flourished this spring have provided additional fuel for the devastating fires that have decimated the greater Los Angeles area.

Images of towering infernos threatening the Getty Museum and the Interstate 405 are searing, visual reminders of the power of nature. Beneath the surface in water collection tunnels and in the courts a separate battle has been waged, a battle over natural resources. Nestle and its Arrowhead bottled water brand diverted millions of gallons of water from Southern California’s San Bernardino National Forest and environmentalists are fighting back.

The Washington Post reports that at the heart of the dispute is water rights. Nestle siphoned off nearly 32 million gallons of water last year. This week, the State Water Resources Control Board concluded that they didn’t have the rights to three-quarters of that total. The decision was a mixed blessing. Nestle is still permitted to remove and sell 8.5 million gallons of water. Their rights to this water date back more than a century and their opponents have long argued that this wanton diversion takes a heavy toll on the environment.

The image of a massive junk food company draining a national forest in the midst of a drought is not a pleasant one. Unfortunately, it reflects a reality where private companies can sell water as a commodity in plastic bottles for massive profit and face little resistance for the toll such practices take on the environment.

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The first bottle of water was sold in 1760 when Jackson’s Spa sold bottles of mineral water for therapeutic uses. In recent decades, the bottled water industry has used advertising to manufacture greater demand for a product that is relatively free from a tap in the U.S. In 2000, Robert Morrison, vice chairperson of PepsiCo, said, “The biggest enemy is tap water.” Susan Wellington, president of the Quaker Oats company beverage division that makes Gatorade, said, “When we’re done, tap water will be relegated to showers and washing dishes.

Considering the damage the industry inflicts on the environment, the bottled water industry has managed to fly under the radar. Not only are companies like Nestle diverting water from national forests into plastic bottles, but the manufacturing process generates significant pollution, using 17 million barrels of oil annually — and most of the water is used during the manufacturing process. Only about a quarter ends up in the bottle.

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Discarded water bottles end up polluting the air, soil, oceans and waterways. Plastic has proliferated in the past 70 years with nearly 300 million tons produced, half of which are single use products, such as beverage bottles; and 500 million plastic bottles are used every year, 215 metric tons of which have found their way into the oceans where they destroy plant and animal life.

The consumer may find bottled water convenient, but the actual product is of questionable quality as well. Plastic can leach chemicals into the water and the quality of the water is not strictly monitored. The bottles contain phthalates, which the EPA monitors in tap water but the FDA does not monitor in bottled water.

If you do not want to contribute to the problem and fill the coffers of companies like Nestle, your best bet is to filter your tap water at the point of entry and point of use. Consider using a reusable glass water bottle instead and if you want to optimize your health consider consuming more structured water. This is water that has been energized through vortexing.

 

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