We’ve all learned over the past decade that bottled water isn’t exactly the most environmentally-friendly thing. But for the most part, this idea is based on the fact that when we purchase and consume bottled water, it generates a whole ton of plastic waste. What we don’t usually think about is the potential damage that plastic water bottles could be doing to the planet before they even get to the store.

Where the water actually comes from has become a point of major contention for bottled water giant Nestlé and conservationists seeking to preserve water resources in California. Specifically, water resources in San Bernadino National Forest.

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For the past 20 years, Nestlé has pumped tens of millions of gallons of pristine spring water from this location and bottled it as Arrowhead 100 percent Mountain Spring water using a permit to transmit water from the National Park Services that technically expired in 1988. According to Nestlé’s CEO, the permit can’t be considered expired, “until the application has been finally determined by the agency.” But this doesn’t smooth over the fact that National Parks Services hasn’t updated the terms of the permit or put any limitations on the amount of water being taken from the forest in over 20 years!

As the state of drought in California continues to worsen, the impact of pumping between 50 and 150 million gallons of water from the forest is being readily felt by the local ecosystem. Fish, birds, and amphibians in the park are suffering with the drop of the water table and given that California would need over 11 trillion gallons of water to get itself out of drought conditions … it doesn’t seem like anything is going to improve for these animals unless drastic measures are taken.

In response to this ever-dire situation, a coalition of conservation organizations including Center for Biological Diversity, the Courage Campaign Institute and The Story of Stuff Project have filed a lawsuit against the National Forest Services for allowing Nestlé to pump exorbitant amounts of water from San Bernadino Forest.

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“We believe that Nestlé’s actions aren’t just morally bankrupt, they are illegal,” said Eddie Kurtz, environmental director at the Courage Campaign Institute. “Quite simply we’d like to see Nestlé stop taking California’s public water and turning it into private profit when there is no water to spare.”

To see the full picture of how pumping water from San Bernadino National Forest is impacting the ecosystem, from the perspective of a man who has devoted 40 years of his life to its conservation, check out the video below:

 
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When you think about it, it is completely absurd that in California, waiters can be fined for giving customers water if they don’t expressly ask for it – but Nestlé has been given free reign to pump and bottle over 705 million gallons of water from pristine California water stores every single year. (OH and did we mention, Nestlé’s CEO said he would bottle MORE if he could.)

If this is a fact that you find infuriating, share this post and help spread the word! There is absolutely no reason that animals and people in California should have to suffer for the sake of a completely useless commodity like bottled water.

Image source: Liz West/Flickr