This time the setting is the San Bernadino National Forest where the U.S. Forest Service has proposed to grant Nestlé a new permit to continue piping water out of the national forest. Three environmental groups are suing the federal government in an attempt to shut down the 4.5-mile pipeline and a petition demanding Nestlé “turn off the spigot” has garnered thousands of signatures and comments.
Nestlé has been piping water from the national forest for decades for its Arrowhead brand, paying a nominal $524 annual fee on a long-expired permit, according to the Desert Sun. Piping water during drought years is a major issue expressed in many of the comments. Permit fees and drought issues aside, environmental impacts are also a concern.
Ileene Anderson and Lisa Belenky of the Center for Biological Diversity said in a 28-page letter that the Forest Service’s “proposal to issue the permit first and undertake the needed studies later, while water extraction continues, is fundamentally flawed and unlawful.”
They said that while the proposal does include environmental studies, the approach is flawed because the agency wouldn’t halt water diversions during the study period – which would allow researchers to observe the differences in the creek between when the water is being diverted and when it isn’t.
Click to read the Desert Sun article.
It’s a familiar battle, one that CalTrout, TU and The McCloud Watershed Council fought in 2003 when Nestlé attempted to bottle water from the McCloud River. The coalition successfully took on the multi-national giant 1) at a grassroots level, 2) on the legal front, 3) with innovative media campaigns (shown here), and 4) through science and monitoring to understand and articulate the potential impacts.
We’ll see how this latest battle turns out.