Target: Tim Brown, CEO Nestle Waters North America
Goal: Demand that Nestle Waters North America release information about the aquifer that is being exploited in drought-stricken Southern California
If you’ve ever enjoyed a bottle of Arrowhead brand bottled water, you have probably inadvertently contributed to water shortages in an arid region of Southern California, which is currently on year three of one the worst droughts in the state’s modern history. Nestle Waters North America, a subsidiary of the global Nestle brand, has been pumping water out of an aquifer in a place called Millard Canyon – near Palm Springs – for over a decade. Despite the prolonged drought and evidence that the water table is falling, the company continues to export water out of the state while refusing to release vital information to the local water control board.
Because it is located on the reservation of the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, the bottling plant is exempt from regulation or oversight by the San Gorgonio Pass Water Agency, which oversees water contracts for the area. Despite the fact that measurements from wells outside of the reservation in the same aquifer have shown significant drops in groundwater levels in the past decade, the company has consistently refused to release information about how much water they have been pumping and has also refused multiple requests by the local newspaper for a tour of its facilities. Best estimates based on data that is available suggest that the company has been drawing around 200 million gallons of water a year, which is enough to supply about 400 typical homes in the adjacent Coachella Valley community.
According to Pacific Institute water researcher Peter Gleick, “the reason this particular plant is of special concern is precisely because water is so scarce in the basin. If you had the same bottling plant in a water-rich area, then the amount of water bottled and diverted would be a small fraction of the total water available. But this is a desert ecosystem. Surface water in the desert is exceedingly rare and has a much higher environmental value than the same amount of water somewhere else.” The company claims to be a responsible corporate citizen with environmental responsibility as one of its highest concerns – a claim belied by its lack of transparency or cooperation. Demand that the Nestle corporation work with local officials to find a sustainable water solution in a time of great scarcity.
Dear Mr. Brown,
Transparency is one of the key components of Corporate Social Responsibility. As a corporation that claims to operate in an environmentally sustainable and socially conscious manner, Nestle Waters North America’s refusal to cooperate with water control agencies in an area of California that is both arid and drought-stricken is both morally and environmentally suspect.
The right to a clean, adequate water supply is universal not just for humans, but for our precious natural ecosystems as well. Please work with water officials and local communities to ensure that the Cabazon Basin aquifer is being sustainably used and equitably shared.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Michael Snyder via The Desert Sun