Nestle Permit to Bottle Water in California Expired in 1988
Desert Sun newspaper investigation finds little state oversight
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 14, 2015 5:33 PM CDT
This Jan. 21, 2015, photo shows a case of Nestle water bottles.   (AP Photo/The Oregonian, Kelly House)

(Newser) – The water shortage in California has people cutting down on shower times and keeping usage to a minimum—which has led activists to rail against Nestle Waters, accused of profiting off its water-bottling operations at the expense of the environment, Newsweek reports. Backing up these claims is an investigation by the Desert Sun that unearthed a lack of oversight on Nestle's practices, including the revelation that there's been little to no assessment on how bottling water in the state affects water supplies and ecosystems. Also: Nestle's permit to suck up this water expired in 1988. The US Forest Service says it will do an "environmental analysis," but "only this year, after a group of critics raised concerns in letters and after the Desert Sun inquired about the expired permit," notes the newspaper.

Of the 108 water-bottling plants in California, five are operated by Nestle, the leading bottled-water supplier worldwide. No state agency monitors how much water is extracted by these plants, notes the Sun. Nestle released a statement that said its 2014 water usage in California was 705 million gallons—which it calls a relatively modest amount, about what it would take to irrigate two golf courses. But critics tell the paper that in the mid-2000s the Forest Service scrutinized permits for forest cabin owners, not saying boo about Nestle. "We made the little people do the right thing, and we're not making the big people do the right thing," a retired biologist with the service tells the paper. (Read the Desert Sun's full take.)