June 13, 2016
Activists Rally Outside Federal Courthouse in Riverside as Judge Considers Challenge to Nestle Water-Bottling Pipeline in the San Bernardino National Forest
Nestle Under Fire for Siphoning Millions of Gallons of Water from Bernardino National Forest Despite Expired Permit; Harming Creek
RIVERSIDE, CALIFORNIA – On June, 13, 2016, activists from the Story of Stuff Project, the California-based Courage Campaign Institute and the Center for Biological Diversity will rally outside the U.S. District Court building in Riverside, Calif. as Judge Jesus G. Bernal considers a challenge to Nestle's four-mile pipeline that siphons water from San Bernardino National Forest's Strawberry Creek to bottling operations in Ontario, California. In a time of drought and water conservation, Nestle's operation has severely lowered levels in Strawberry Creek, harming wildlife and the public interest.
At the rally, activists will call on the Court to rule against the US Forest Service for allowing Nestle to continue to bottle millions of gallons of water from the San Bernardino National Forest with a permit that expired 28 years ago, effectively ending Nestle water-taking.
WHEN: 8:00am PDT, Monday, June 13
WHERE: U.S. District Court - Courtroom 1, 3470 Twelfth Street, Riverside, CA.
In 2014 alone, an estimated 28 million gallons were piped away from the forest to be bottled and sold under Nestle's Arrowhead brand of bottled water. The permit expired in 1988 but the piping system remains in active use, siphoning about 68,000 gallons of water a day out of the forest last year. Reports from the end of 2015 indicated that water levels at Strawberry Creek were at record lows. =20
In exchange for allowing Nestle to continue siphoning water from the Creek, the Forest Service receives just $524 a year, less than the average Californian's water bill.
Following the announcement of the lawsuit last year, the Forest Service announced plans to review and renew Nestle's permit for another five years. Earlier this month, more than 280,000 members of the California-based Courage Campaign Institute, The Story of Stuff Project, the Center for Biological Diversity, Food & Water Watch, Care2, CREDO, SumOfUs and Daily Kos and many other groups and individuals submitted comments to the Forest Service requesting that the Forest Service not approve Nestle's new permit for water bottling in the San Bernardino National Forest.
"Forest Service must follow the law (of the National Environmental Policy Act) and conduct a robust and rigorous environmental review of the impacts of Nestle's bottled water operation on our lands before issuing a new permit," explained Eddie Kurtz, executive director and President of the California-based Courage Campaign. "Until a new permit is issued and while this review is under way, Nestle should not be allowed to withdraw water from the forest."
"Why should Nestle - the largest food and beverage company in the U.S. - get to operate a huge bottled water operation on a permit that's been expired for 30 years during a historic drought when it is causing what used to be a perennial stream that wildlife use to go dry?" said Ileene Anderson, senior scientist and public lands deserts director for the Center for Biological Diversity.
"280,000+ citizens have signed a petition demanding that the Forest Service turn off the spigot," explained Michael O'Heaney, Executive Director at Story of Stuff. "Extending Nestle's permit without a proper environmental review disregards the public interest and threatens the well being of the plants and animals that depend on the water."