Nestle Allowed to Continue Taking Water from San Bernardino National Forest
Last month, the U.S. Forest Service announced that it has granted Nestle a new three-year permit to continue operating its bottled water pipeline in the San Bernardino National Forest. The agency stated that the permit has been offered to the company “with measures to improve the watershed’s health” along Strawberry Creek. Nestle’s special use permit allows the company to use its pipelines, horizontal wells and water collection tunnels in the mountains north of San Bernardino. In a statement, District Ranger Joe Rechsteiner stated the following,
The water withdrawal and conveyance infrastructure is under a current permit, and it provides for protection of forest resources.
A Desert Sun investigation in 2015 revealed that Nestle was piping water out of the mountains under a permit that listed 1988 as the expiration date, which led to the Forest Service leading their own investigation. The revelation also led to a lawsuit by environmental groups and a separate investigation by California regulators. The new three-year permit for Nestle comes with new conditions, including a requirement that the company take less water if necessary to maintain “minimum flows” of surface water. Nestle has been paying $624 per year to the Forest Service for the permit and piped 32 million gallons of water from its sources in the national forest in 2016. The agency states that Nestle has 60 days to accept the terms of the permit. We will have to wait and see if environmental groups will continue to try and stop Nestle from taking water from the San Bernardino National Forest.