Surprise — Turns Out Nestle Actually WAS Stealing Water In Calif.

Nestle is already in hot water over the continuing pumping of water out of drought-ravaged California to feed its bottled water business. Now, it turns out, they did not actually have the permits needed to do so from at least one of their sources, according to an investigation by The Desert Sun. As reported by the San Jose Mercury News on Sunday, it turns out that their permit for water extraction from the San Bernardino National Forest for their Arrowhead 100 percent Mountain Spring Water was no longer valid. Indeed, it had expired in 1988, long before the current conditions arose.

The first priority of the Forrest Service appears to be getting the issue resolved, and potentially cutting Nestle off at the tap. In a phone interview with The Desert Sun, San Bernardino National Forest Supervisor Jody Noiron said, “Since this issue was raised and I became aware of how long that permit has been expired, I have made it a priority to work on this resistance project.” The Desert Sun discovered other expired permits as well, such as a permit for the Deer Canyon Springs which expired in 1994 — a legacy of neglect regarding water management in the Forest Service.

Indeed, with the drought in California now the worst in over a millennia, the fear now is that it cannot be reversed. Of course, to the former CEO of Nestle, this appears to be no issue at all, for access to water is not a human right. This is the kind of neo-liberal thinking which has brought our world to the brink of calamity, that unless something can be sold, it has no value, therefore everything must be commoditized and sold, including the very water we need to grow and raise our food, not even considering what we need to drink ourselves.

Nestle itself has iterated its intent to renew their permit, and to force even more water out of California. That they are causing serious damage to not only the ecosystem, but potentially the national agricultural system, is completely lost on them. It is this kind of willful ignorance which has caused famines across the world. And Nestle appears ready to take its place with the blood of millions on its hands in the name of profits.

California cannot afford the luxury of bottled water exports at this time. The drought crisis is so severe that if steps are not taken immediately, we might be witnessing America’s winter food basket becoming the newest desert of the southwest.