A new chapter in California’s water wars …
Nestlé has been bottling and selling water that it does not have the legal right to use, officials in California have concluded.
Fights over water are a constant in California, exacerbated when drought years make the supply especially scarce. Since 2015, officials with the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) had received numerous complaints that Nestlé was claiming water from the San Bernardino National Forest to which it had no right and then selling it under its Arrowhead brand.
Because California allocates water rights in part based on who got there first, getting to the bottom of those allegations required a deep dive into history. Nestlé cited a 150-year-old claim by a man named David Noble Smith whose property later became the site of the Arrowhead Springs Hotel, for instance.
The company’s materials tout its history in California and its commitment to “sourcing water exclusively from carefully selected mountain springs,” which “ensures that every drop is as crystal clear as the water revered by Native Americans for its healing powers”.
“Westerners have savoured the natural goodness of Arrowhead water since bottling began in the 1890s,” the company’s website proclaims.
After combing through decades worth of permitting information, the water board declared last week that the company had no basis for much of the water it was draining from the Strawberry Canyon watershed. It said the company’s invocation of David Noble Smith was “not valid for Nestlé’s current appropriative diversion and use of water from the San Bernardino National Forest”.
This is going to be something that we see a lot more of over the coming years.
People around the world from the US to Canada to India are getting tired of Nestle and other multinational corporations ripping them off for their water.
Water is becoming more and more scarce around the world, which makes what Nestle is doing California, a particularly brazen act.
World War III will not be fought over oil, it will be fought over water.
The biggest beef that India and Pakistan have with each other is over the Indus Water Treaty, over how to allocate river water from the Indus River system. These are 2 nuclear armed countries, with rapidly growing populations, that are increasingly at odds over a dwindling resource, river water.
There are battles over water like this all over the world, and they are only going to be exacerbated by multinational corporations like Nestle, Coke and PepsiCo striking deals with corrupt state and local governments around the world for their river water.