As Californians stare down the maw of the worst drought they’ve seen in more than a century, Nestlé is quietly extracting undisclosed amounts of H2O in the state for their bottled water operations. California is currently urging citizens to conserve water and considering a mandatory restriction on outdoor water usage, but at the same time Nestlé continues to suck water from a particularly drought-stricken desert area for its Arrowhead and Pure Life brand water.
How can they get away with that, you ask? Salon.com reports that the plant is located on the Morongo Band of Mission Indians’ reservation, which means Nestlé’s operation is not subject to the same oversight by local water agencies that other companies are. Because of the location, Nestlé doesn’t have to disclose information – such as the amount of water it’s taking or the levels of its wells.
And as their water supply becomes increasingly uncertain, locals are starting to ask questions. “Why is it possible to take water from a drought area and sell it?” asks local real estate appraiser, Linda Ivey in an interview with The Desert Sun. “It’s hard to know how much is being taken. We’ve got to protect what little water supply we have.” And questions have apparently been asked for quite some time now, as the Morongo Band has already fended off numerous attempts to have their water license for a portion of the rights revoked in an effort to keep the undisclosed amounts of revenue they get from Nestlé and the 250 jobs provided by the operation.
A spokesperson for the Morongo Band says the group has a long history of protecting the environment on their land, and their environmental programs help ensure the water resources will remain intact. Nestlé added that they operate within all state public health regulations and conduct their business in an environmentally responsible manner that prevents adverse impacts to local groundwater resources. Switzerland-based Nestlé currently sells more than $11 billion worth of bottled water around the world each year and owns more than 70 of the world’s bottled water brands.