The largest share of protests over the large-scale use of water supplies for bottled water have appeared in the eastern states. But activity in the western states rapidly is catching up.
The Sacramento Press reported on September 28 that a quietly-generated proposal from Nestle North America to collect water in the Sacramento area for use as bottled drinking water has drawn a strong negative local reaction:
“One of the group’s biggest worries is that Nestle’s use of the water would not be regulated or limited in any way. While city employee and Nestle’s public relations team estimates are tens of millions of gallons apart, the actual amount of water Nestle may bottle each year would be unchecked, according to city staff and activists.”
Nestle has estimated the draw at 82 million gallons of water per year from the American River and its tributaries.
But some of the residents, organized as Save Our Water Sacramento, point out that this is still a large volume in a time of drought, which has been the condition in most of California this year.
The SOWS group remarks on its web site:
Nestlé and the City of Sacramento worked hard to quietly fast-track this project so Nestlé could open its South Sacramento bottling plant by January 2010. The project was only announced in a brief back page article in the Sacramento Bee at the end of July.
While Sacramento residents are required to abide by city-imposed water restrictions, Nestlé would be able to siphon water from our municipal water supply 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. According to one staff member at the Economic Development Department, the only limit on the amount of water Nestlé can pump is the size of their pipes.
Nestlé claims the Sacramento plant would be a “micro-bottling plant,” bottling only 50 million gallons of water per year. However, according to the Department of Utilities, the estimated water usage is 215 thousand – 320 thousand gallons of water per day (78 – 116 millions per year). This would make Nestlé one of the top ten water users in Sacramento at a time when we are in our third consecutive year of a drought.
According to Nestlé, approximately 30 million gallons of bottled water would come from Sacramento’s municipal water system and 20 million would be trucked to the plant from “private springs.” Nestle originally provided no information about the location of the springs, and only did so after pressure from the public elicited a response. They are now claiming that the private springs “may” come from the following spring sources: Lukens Spring, Placer County, CA; Sopiago Spring, El Dorado County, CA; Sugar Pine Spring, Tuolumne County, CA; Arcadia Spring, Napa County, CA. We do not know what sort of environmental impacts Nestle’s pumping will have on these springs and their surrounding ecosystems.