SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— An online petition is circulating by a non-profit organization urging California regulators to put an end to food and beverage companies from bottling the state’s water supply and selling it for profit during the historic drought.
CourageCampaign.org is specifically calling out Nestlé, a multinational company, and claims the company extracts water for its Arrowhead and Pure Life brands.
Several other major beverage companies, including Pepsi and Coca-Cola, bottle California water to sell for profit.
“We’re using this moment and Nestlé to organize opposition to certainly any sort of ground water in California being bottled for sale. [It] just doesn’t make any sense in this drought,” said Eddy Kurtz executive director of CourageCampaign.org.
State Water Resources Control Board chair Felicia Marcus warns against pulling the plug on bottled water, even though she agrees that there are reasons that bottled water is problematic.
She points out that bottled water is useful for the communities that don’t have tap water available to drink.
“There are environmental waste reasons. There’s the fact that tap water meets stricter standards in some ways and mostly you have a lot of communities that are paying for water out the tap and drinking bottled water because of marketing, when the water from the tap is perfectly fine,” Marcus said.
In an interview last year with KCBS, Peter Gleick with the Pacific Institute reminded us that consumer demands factor into these operations.
“The truth is we don’t have to buy bottled water. That’s a choice we make,” he said.
No one from Nestle was available for an interview on this story, but they did release a statement.
Nestle said its total water use in California last year was equivalent to the annual average watering needs of two golf courses and that it works with regulators to make sure its operations don’t significantly impact watersheds.
Representatives of the International Bottled Water Association assert that eliminating bottled water could actually increase water use if consumers turned to beverages that require more water in production.
“The California drought is a serious issue and we welcome a reasonable dialog about responsible water use in a drought,” said Chris Hogan of the International Bottled Water Association. “It is not in the best interest to discourage the consumption of this safe, healthy, and convenient product.”