With much of North America still in the grips of a drought going back years, managing dwindling drinking water resources is a pressing topic. And in a year when bottled water sales in the United States are expected to exceed soda sales for the first time, Nestlé Waters—a water-for-profit poster child that dominates the bottled water industry, with multiple operations across the U.S. and Canada—is at the front lines of numerous battles being waged in local communities across North America.
A group of environmental organizations subsequently filed a lawsuit arguing that the Forest Service had, for the duration of Nestlé’s expired permit, illegally allowed Nestlé to pipe water from the creek for miles over National Forest land. Strawberry Creek, a perennial waterway, has been running dry, said Eddie Kurtz, executive director of the Courage Campaign, a California-based progressive grassroots advocacy group. “It’s way below what it needs to be to be healthy to sustain the environment and the flora and fauna, and it only continues to get worse,” he said. “The rains we had last winter didn’t impact this area at all, and so, it’s not like things are on the upswing.”
The legal wranglings are far from over, however. The State Water Resource Control Board, which operates under the authority of the California Environmental Protection Agency, is believed to be reviewing Nestlé’s water rights to Strawberry Creek. The Forest Service is conducting an environmental review of Nestlé’s new permit application. And Courage Campaign attorney Rachel Doughty said in an email to AlterNet that an appeal of the district court’s decision is “anticipated.”