People Are Starting To Fight Over Water In California

After three consecutive years of drought, anxiety over water supplies is increasing in some areas of California. There’s been a crackdown on watering lawns, washing cars, and cleaning sidewalks in?a desert area in Southern?California because of crippling drought. The state’s powerful agricultural sector has even been forced to scale back the amount of water it uses, which has led to $1 billion in losses. Yet insanely, California?is one of the few states that is lacking in comprehensive groundwater regulations.

However, Nestle is still steadily bottling water to sell under the brands Arrowhead and Pure Life.

From Mint Press News:

Nestle’s bottling operation, however, is located on Native American land, operating under a 25-year lease from the Morongo Band of Mission Indians near Cabazon, in the state’s arid south. Water from the area is bottled and sold under the brands Arrowhead and Pure Life, according to the local media investigation that broke the story in July. The article’s author, Ian James, pointed to federal data suggesting that water levels in the area have been going down by up to 4 feet a year over the past decade.

water not a basic or public human right

People are becoming increasingly incensed. The League of Conservation Voters — a prominent national lobbying group — has had 50,000 of its members and consumers petition Nestle concerning this issue.

?Nestle ? is bottling California’s water, selling it, and profiting while the state suffers from a scorching, record-breaking drought,? the groups warned in a series of emails. ?Friend, we are fuming. To date, Nestle has refused to acknowledge concerns about the water they are taking.?

The problem is that the Morongo are a sovereign nation, so Nestle isn’t required to tell California authorities how much water they’re extracting from that area. They claim they’re “committed to managing water supplies for long-term sustainability.?

?Recognizing that no company, person or entity is immune from the effects of the drought, we have planned for and adapted our operations in light of the current situation,? Nestle Waters North America, which is based in Connecticut, said in response to a query to the Morongo Band.

?Our water use management program includes curtailing withdrawals depending on conditions at a spring site. Our monitoring shows that ? there is no significant adverse impact on the any springs or surrounding groundwater levels related to the water we withdraw.?

Experts aren’t buying it.

?We’re in a very bad drought right now and it’s time to really manage our public water resources wisely ? and Nestle’s operations are really antithetical to good public water management,? Adam Scow, California director for Food & Water Watch, a watchdog group, told MintPress.

?Yet, the state has no specific policy on water bottling. Here we are in the middle of this drought and no one even knows how much water the company’s taking at that plant or other plants,? he continued.

Seems odd, doesn’t it? Well, it of course comes down to money, as it always does — and Republicans. Two years ago, state legislators passed legislation requiring companies like Nestle to report how much water they’re bottling. Guess where that legislation went? The desk of Gov. Arlnold Schwarzenegger, who vetoed it. Adam Scow added this:

?Water is pretty much treated as private property, which is crazy and grossly irresponsible,? he said.

?This is due to industry opposition, largely from corporate agriculture, which is the big groundwater sucker in California. Most likely, the fear is that if the public knew how much groundwater there is, there would be some limitations on how much water they could take.?

Erin Dias, a campaign director with Corporate Accountability International explained.

?Since their inception, bottled water corporations have used marketing to try to change the way that we think about water ? not as a human right but rather as a commodity that can be bought and sold,? she said.

Of course they have and they can count on the full support of Republican politicians.

Go in-depth at Mint Press News. There is a video below of former Nestle CEO Peter Brabeck denying that access to water is an essential human right. Let us know your thoughts at the Liberal America Facebook page. Sign up for our free daily newsletter to receive more great stories like this one.


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Tiffany Willis is the founder and editor-in-chief of Liberal America. An unapologetic member of the Christian Left, she has spent most of her career actively working with ?the least of these? and disadvantaged and oppressed populations. She’s passionate about their struggles. To stay on top of topics she discusses,?like her?Facebook page,?follow her on Twitter, or?connect with her via LinkedIn. She also has?a?grossly neglected personal blog?and a?literary quotes blog that is a labor of love. Find her somewhere and join the discussion.

Tiffany Willis Clark is a fifth-generation Texan and the founder and editor-in-chief of Liberal America and AmReading.com. An unapologetic member of the Christian Left, she had a long and successful career actively working with at-risk youth, people struggling with poverty and unemployment, and disadvantaged and oppressed populations. She’s passionate about their struggles. In 2011, she made the decision to pursue her dreams and become a full-time writer. Connect with her on LinkedIn, follow her on Twitter, and like her Facebook page.