Back in October, a group of environmental organizations filed a suit against the U.S. Forest Service, alleging that the government agency allowed food company Nestle to bottle water in California whilst using a permit which had expired.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court, calls on the Forest Service to immediately shut down a four-mile pipeline which transports water from Strawberry Creek to a bottling facility. According to the lawsuit, the permit in question has been expired since 1988. The plaintiffs are demanding that the U.S. Forest Service conduct another review which takes environmental impact into consideration, according to the lawsuit. Nestle is not party to the suit.
Filed by advocacy groups the Story of Stuff Project, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Courage Campaign Institute, the lawsuit comes amidst a historic drought which has prompted a number of policies regarding the personal water use of the state’s residents and requiring that it be reduced. The plaintiffs argue that corporations should not be allowed unlimited and unfettered water use, whilst regular state residents are required to cut back. Executive director of the Courage Campaign Institute Eddie Kurtz said in a statement that Nestle’s actions are not just morally bankrupt, but also illegal. He went on to say that since the government will not stand up to them, the advocacy groups are taking matters into their own hands.
Nestle spokesperson Jane Lazgin released a statement in which she says that the permit remains in full force and effect under the federal Administrative Procedure Act. According to Lazgin, Nestle are working diligently alongside the U.S. Forest Service on the renewal of the permit. An emailed statement said that Nestle plan to continue abiding by all relevant laws and legislations as related to their operations, whether it be federal, state or local.
Operations to Continue
John Heil, a spokesperson for the Regional Forest Service, said in a statement that current policy allows Nestle to continue operations whilst a review of its application for permit renewal is underway. Nestle’s current permit is one of a range of permits from the 1930’s, and was issued to Nestle’s predecessor for the maintenance purposes of over four miles worth of water pipelines, water collection tunnels and horizontal wells in the national forest.