LOS ANGELES— The Story of Stuff Project, the California-based Courage Campaign Institute, and the Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit today against the U.S. Forest Service for allowing Nestlé to continue to bottle millions of gallons of water from the San Bernardino National Forest with a permit that expired 27 years ago.

The lawsuit specifically challenges Nestlé’s four-mile pipeline that siphons water from San Bernardino National Forest’s Strawberry Creek to bottling operations in Ontario, Calif. The groups are calling on the court to immediately shut down the pipeline and order the Forest Service to conduct a full permitting process that includes environmental reviews.

In 2014 alone an estimated 28 million gallons were piped away from the forest to be bottled and sold under Nestlé’s Arrowhead brand of bottled water. The permit expired in 1988, but the piping system remains in active use, siphoning about 68,000 gallons of water a day out of the forest last year.

“We Californians have dramatically reduced our water use over the past year in the face of an historic drought, but Nestlé has refused to step up and do its part,” said Michael O’Heaney, executive director of the Story of Stuff Project. “Until the impact of Nestlé’s operation is properly reviewed, the Forest Service must turn off the spigot.”

Recent reports have indicated that water levels at Strawberry Creek are at record lows. In exchange for allowing Nestlé to continue siphoning water from the Creek, the Forest Service receives just $524 a year, less than the average Californian’s water bill.

“Nestlé’s actions aren’t just morally bankrupt, they are illegal. In the spring, we asked Nestlé to do the right thing, and they threw it back in our faces, telling Californians they’d take more of our water if they could,” said Eddie Kurtz, executive director of the California-based Courage Campaign Institute. “The U.S. Forest Service has been enabling Nestlé’s illegal bottling in the San Bernardino National Forest for 27 years, and it has to stop. Our government won’t stand up to them, so we’re taking matters into our own hands.”

“California is in the middle of its worst drought in centuries, and the wildlife that rely on Strawberry Creek, including southwestern willow flycatchers and numerous amphibians, are seeing their precious water siphoned away every day,” said Ileene Anderson with the Center for Biological Diversity. “It’s inexcusable for the Forest Service to allow this piping system to continue year after year without a permit or any review of how it’s affecting wildlife or local streams. The forest and the wildlife that live there deserve better.”

Earlier this year more than 500,000 people signed a petition calling on Nestlé to stop bottling water during the drought, and a poll found that a majority of people in the United States believe Nestlé should stop bottling in California. Despite the clear public outcry, when asked about the controversy, Nestlé CEO Tim Brown remarked that he wished the multinational corporation could bottle more water from the drought-stricken land.

Read a copy of the lawsuit.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

3 Responses

  1. TJ says:

    It’s unfortunate that it took an outside entity to take action. I’ve written the San Bernardino NF as well as the NPS numerous times to try and get some kind of response in regards to what they intended to do about this.

    The only reply I got was “It’s under consideration.”

    Nope. Not buying it. They were hoping it would be swept under the rug.

    The drag is that they’re asking the Defendant (the NFS) for money to cover the legal expenses. That will come right out of the NFS budget which is already strapped.

    If you don’t agree with the CEO’s take that water should not be a right, then don’t give them a freaking dollar.

    Digornio Pizza
    California Pizza Kitchen frozen pizza
    Tombstone Pizza
    Lean Cuisine
    All their freaking candy
    Most all of the top store bought pet foods

    Thanks for this piece. Nothing I like more than getting fired up on a quiet Sunday morning

  2. dara says:

    I am so upset about this why are we not doing more as a nation to stand up to the desertification of our land?

  3. While this is going on we should also start a boycott of Nestle’s brands beginning with Arrowhead.

Leave a Reply



Get the top stories from Planet Experts — right to your inbox every week.

Send this to a friend