For Immediate Release, November 30, 2015
Lawsuit Advances Over Nestlé's Illegal Water Bottling From San Bernardino National Forest
Nestlé Under Fire for Bottling Millions of Gallons of Water Despite Expired Permit,
California's Persistent Drought
LOS ANGELES— The Story of Stuff Project, the California-based Courage Campaign Institute and Center for Biological Diversity filed a motion for summary judgment today asking a federal court to quickly rule on the case they filed in early October 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 motion asks the court to rule in the groups’ favor because the facts in the case are clear and not disputed. Nestlé’s four-mile pipeline on Forest Service land, which siphons water from San Bernardino National Forest’s Strawberry Creek, does not have a current valid permit and is therefore unlawful. The groups are calling on the court to shut down the pipeline immediately and order the Forest Service to conduct a full permitting process that includes environmental reviews.
“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.”
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 system remains in active use, piping about 68,000 gallons of water a day out of the forest last year.
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 them to destroy delicate ecosystems 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.”
“The quicker the courts make a decision, the sooner much-needed water will be available for wildlife,” said Ileene Anderson with the Center for Biological Diversity. “The drought is harmful enough, but Nestlé’s decades-old, expired permit is taking the little water that’s left in the stream. That’s just wrong.”
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CourageCampaign.org fights for a more progressive California and country. We are an online community powered by more than 1,000,000 members.
The Story of Stuff Project, a California-based nonprofit organization, facilitates an global online community of more than 1 million members working to transform the way we make, use and throw away Stuff.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 900,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.
Rachel Doughty, Greenfire Law and Matt Kenna of Durango, Colo., represent the Story of Stuff Project and Courage Campaign.