Nestlé Bottled Water Controversy
Despite the United States holding one of the best water standards in the world, large bottled water corporations have created a mint convincing consumers that they need bottled water. One of these corporations, Nestlé, owns 70% of the world's bottled water brands (Schnell). Nestlé bottled water brands alone rake in ten billion dollars a year. And yet the company still discloses much of its data and information on its groundwater pumping. Especially in the state of California, where much of this controversy stirs, does this withholding of information matter most. The state, along with most the country, has endured one of the worst droughts on record including a $500 dollar fine for those who use up too much water (Kaye). Nestlé however, the largest producer of bottled water in the U.S has continued to do so for several years, which leads us to the latest of their controversial actions, specifically within one of the driest parts of the state, the Coachella Valley (Kaye).
The Water Brands of Nestlé
The Severity of the Situation
Located in the Morongo Band of Mission Indians' reservation, Nestlé is able to keep legal immunity from local water agencies on just how much water they are using as well as keeping their information confidential from the government. This includes the amount of scarce water they are pumping and the water levels within its wells, something that other plants would be required to disclose. In an area that only receives three inches of rainfall a year, how can Nestlé think it is fair to disclose information to them? The general manager of the DWA, Desert Water Agency, states that "they're entitled to the groundwater basin. But its' just a shame that this water is not being used locally. Its' being exported" (Abrams). This poses the uncertainty of just how much water Nestlé is truly pumping in a place that needs this scarce resource so desperately.
Meet Peter Brabeck. Brabeck, the Chairman and former CEO of Nestlé Group, declared in early 2013 that water is not a right, should be given a market value, and become privatized (McGraw). When asking the concerning question on just how much water is being pumped from wells in Coachella Valley, this man's statement raises serious problems. Even though soon after this statement Brabeck clarified that his words were taken "out of context" it is still helpful to consider the right of water that Brabeck was commenting on initially (McGraw). First, wherever you are in the U.S water needs to take precedence, meaning that the right to water should entitle every person affordable and accessible water for personal and domestic use. Second, human rights have priority. All water is a human right first, and a resource that can become monetized second.
What We Must Do
Whether we like Mr. Brabeck's allegations on water or not he is right about one thing. By assigning water prices and enduring droughts in our modernizing world, we become more aware of just how precious it really is becoming. We have truly become out of touch with water's preciousness. According to a survey of American "Water Attitudes" by the Xylem firm in 2012, 67% of Americans claimed that they had taken water access for granted (qtd. in McGraw). The right for water is something that has never really been challenged before, but it is a right we all possess, whether we acknowledge and understand it or not. As a result, we should take action against those corporations like Nestlé who attempt to hide how much water they are removing from our drought-stricken country and their attempt to privatize the resource further. One way we can do this is by boycotting all Nestlé water brands. We can add red caps with the hashtag below to all non-Nestlé branded water displaying our fortitude in standing up against themAmericans can access water in other ways than through Nestlé, who attempt to rid us from the access to something so necessary and important, water.
Abrams, Lindsay. "Nestlé Is Bottling Water Straight from the Heart of California’s Drought." Salon. Salon, 14 July 2014. Web. 10 Feb. 2015.
Kaye, Leon. "Nestlé Hides Behind 'Sovereign Nation' in Desert Bottled Water Controversy." Triple Pundit. Triple Pundit, 17 July 2014. Web. 6 Feb. 2015.
McGraw, George. "Nestlé Chairman Peter Brabeck Says We Don't Have a Right to Water, Believes We Do Have a Right to Water and Everyone's Confused. (Video)." The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 25 Apr. 2013. Web. 10 Feb. 2015.
Schnell, Urs. "The Truth about Nestlé's Business with Water." Bottled Life. Doklab, n.d. Web. 10 Feb. 2015.