First Starbucks, now Walmart is awash in complaints about its bottled water operation in Sacramento, which has been hard-hit by conservation measures amid California's drought. CBS13 reports the company's Great Value brand water comes from the Sacramento Municipal Water Supply and is sold to bottler DS Services of America at 99 cents per 748 gallons before it lands on Walmart's shelves with a price tag of 88 cents per gallon, earning the two companies $658.24 for those 748 gallons. Walmart tells the Guardian it is "very concerned" about the drought, but "our commitment to sustainability includes efforts to minimize water use in our facilities. We continue to work with our suppliers to act responsibly while meeting the needs of customers."
Still, the transaction is "certainly leaving a bad taste in everyone's mouth," a PR expert says. "You can't water your lawn if you're living in this region. And to find out they're making a huge profit off of this, it's just not right." Though the US Geological Survey notes the bottling industry uses less than 1% of state water, some say the plants aren't properly monitored. "The entire state is under a 25% cut, farmers are letting fields go fallow, and we don't have one piece of legislation regulating water bottling," a rep for the Gateway Neighborhood Association tells the San Francisco Chronicle. Residents of Mount Shasta are now campaigning against a planned bottled water plant from Crystal Geyser, which doesn't need to submit an environmental impact report or a permit to tap the area's water. (Former workers are peeved at Walmart, too.)