Nestle and U.S. Forest Service’s PR problem over water permit
Multiple environmental groups filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Forest Service on Tuesday for letting Nestle siphon water from the San Bernardino National Forest for the past 27 years with an expired permit.
The plaintiffs in this case believe that draining the water for all these years has been potentially damaging to the forest’s habitat. Environmental lawyer Rachel Doughty stated that the U.S. Forest Service is more focused on “letting Nestle take water,” than managing the public land. To try and repair the bad PR they’re facing, the U.S. Forest Service is working on a new permit.
John Heil, press officer for the U.S. Forest Service, said in an email that they “will develop a proposed action for the issuance of a new Nestle permit which the public will then be invited to review and comment on before next steps are taken.”
Nestle isn’t a part of the lawsuit, but the company hasn’t been immune to negative PR involving the siphoning of water for their Arrowhead bottled water with an expired permit. California has been experiencing one of the worst droughts the state has ever seen. The drought has been harmful to forests across California, yet Nestle bottled about 68,000 gallons of water every day from the national forest in 2014.
Protesters gathered 500,000 signatures in May to get Nestle to halt their bottled water operation in California during the drought. Rather than temporarily shutting down their water bottling factories, like Starbucks did with Ethos water, Nestle continued production. Despite the PR problems Nestle has faced this year, they still have no plans to put a stop to their siphoning of the national forest’s water while they hold an expired permit.
Retired U.S. Forest Service biologist Steve Loe believes that the best solution for preserving the forest is to stop taking its water while there’s a drought. “I want to see them stop taking any water until the groundwater starts to recover from the drought, and that they only start taking water when there’s a new permit that protects the national forest,” said Loe.
Should Nestle be allowed to take water from the national forest? Was it the right decision for them to continue their bottled water operation in California during the drought? Leave a comment or talk to me on Twitter @Karbowski_Devon.