End Nestle’s Unpermitted Water Use on Federal Land

Mill_Creek_drainage,_San_Bernardino_National_Forest-JCookFisher

Target: Mary Beth Najera, Director of Resources and Restoration

Goal: Demand a halt to Nestle’s unpermitted resource extraction from San Bernardino National Forest.

Since 1929, the Nestle corporation has drawn water from wells in the San Bernardino National Forest. For the last 28 years, they carried out that operation under an expired permit. Moreover, investigative reporting by The Desert Sun revealed that the permit Nestle uses to draw water from the national forest expired in 1988 and that, because the permit was never renewed, no environmental impact studies were ever conducted during that time.

The paper reports that, free of regulation, Nestle piped 36 million gallons of water from San Bernardino National Forest last year alone. For that extraordinary privilege, the company paid only $524. According to The Desert Sun, if Nestle paid the same rate as municipal water users “for the 36 million gallons drawn from the forest last year, it would have paid more than $55,000.”

The potential environmental costs of Nestle’s unbridled resource extraction are incalculable. The Desert Sun reports that environmental advocates claim “continuing to bottle water from the national forest threatens rare species such as southwestern willow flycatchers, California spotted owls and mountain yellow-legged frogs.” While Nestle insists that it monitors the health of the environment around its springs, there is no way of assessing environmental impact.

Not only have necessary studies not been conducted, Nestle’s critics note that water extraction would not be halted in the course of the study. Consequently, researchers would be unable to compare the flow of area waterways while water is being drawn and while it is unmolested.

Demand that our government protect the nation’s resources and environment. Tell the National Forest Service to act on environmentalist Michael O’Heaney’s simple analysis: “Nestle doesn’t have a valid permit and they should stop taking water.”

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Director Najera,

While California suffered through unprecedented drought and the world wrestled with questions of water insecurity, Nestle drew 36 million gallons of water from federal land in a single year. For that exceptional privilege, the company paid only $526—less than one tenth of what a municipal water user would have paid for the same level of consumption.

More important than the fundamental unfairness of Nestle’s fees, the company’s resource extraction has been carried out for the past 28 years under an expired permit and with no environmental monitoring. Environmentalists warn that Nestle’s operation jeopardizes “rare species such as southwestern willow flycatchers, California spotted owls and mountain yellow-legged frogs.”

Nestle may insist that it monitors the environment around its springs, but there is no way of corroborating its assertion. Indeed, even if Nestle abided by the current permitting process, provisions for environmental impact assessment do not allow water extraction to be halted during testing. That means that researchers will be unable to compare flow in waterways when extraction is underway and when it is halted.

Please take action to protect our nation’s environment and resources. Shut down Nestle’s water extraction and reject their new permit application.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: J Cook Fisher

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