Nestlé Under Fire For Plan To Pump Millions Of Gallons Of Water From Vulnerable Florida River

As a Florida waterway continues to recover from past abuse, Nestlé now wants to pump millions of gallons of water from it that would once again threaten the river and all the species that depend on it in the name of profit.

Water is big business for Nestlé, netting the company billions of dollars every year while it only pays pennies on the dollar for what they pump out.

Considering how little they pay, they basically get it for free and all the living creatures that rely on the water sources have to contend with the consequences while a bunch of executives get rich.

For instance, Nestlé still pumps 45 million gallons a year out of Strawberry Canyon in the San Bernardino national forest of drought-vulnerable California.

And the company recently got a permit to extract 210 million gallons a year out of the Great Lakes Basin in Michigan.

The Great Lakes are among the largest freshwater lakes on Earth. But the Ginnie Springs water source in Florida, which makes up part of the Santa Fe River in the state that supports wetlands and an abundance of wildlife, is even smaller.

Yet, Nestlé wants to pump over 1 million gallons a day from that source, which amounts to 365 million gallons a year, presumably at a small price.

According to The Guardian:

The company needs the Suwannee River water management district to renew an expired water use permit held by a local company, Seven Springs, from which it plans to buy the water at undisclosed cost. Nestlé insists spring water is a rapidly renewable resource and promises a “robust” management plan in partnership with its local agents for long-term sustainability of its water sources.

“The facility is in process of adding bottling capacity and expects significant increase in production volumes equal to the requested annual average daily withdrawal volume of approximately 1.152 million gallons,” Nestlé Waters North America natural resources manager George Ring says.

Such extraction would likely have a negative impact on the environment by significantly lowering water levels, which would have far-reaching consequences for the entire system, especially since the river is already declining.

“The question is how much harm is it going to cause the spring, what kind of change is going to be made in that water system?” Our Santa Fe River director Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson said. “The Santa Fe River is already in decline [and] there’s not enough water coming out of the aquifer itself to recharge these lovely, amazing springs that are iconic and culturally valued and important for natural systems and habitats. It’s impossible to withdraw millions of gallons of water and not have an impact. If you take any amount of water out of a glass you will always have less.”

Of particular concern is the diverse number of threatened species that call the river system home.

“Few places on Earth have as many turtle species living together and about a quarter of all North American freshwater turtle species inhabit this small river system,” Malwitz-Jipson noted. “A big threat to this diversity is habitat degradation, which will happen with reduced flows.”

All water sources have a breaking point and are already strained enough as it is, but the bottled water industry is having a double impact on the environment by basically stealing water and selling it in plastic bottles that end up contributing to the plastics crisis.

And rising global temperatures are resulting in worse droughts that are more frequent, resulting in wildfires that can only be put out by, you guessed it, the very water that Nestlé takes from the water table to fill their pockets. The Ogallala aquifer alone has dropped 16 feet in the last few decades and wells around the country are drying up.

If Nestlé continues to take more and more water, other freshwater sources are going to dry up as well, and much sooner.

Of course, the company denies it is harming the environment.

“We adhere to all relevant regulatory and state standards,” the company says. “Just like all the previous owners of the High Springs factory which manufactured bottled water and other beverages, we are not taking water from a publicly owned source. Instead we are buying water from a private company which holds the valid water use permit. It would make no sense to invest millions of dollars into local operations just to deplete the natural resources on which our business relies. It would undermine the success of our business and go against every value we hold as people and as a company.”

The problem is that it makes perfect sense if you are a greedy corporation looking to buy cheap water and sell it at an enormous profit. Oil companies deplete oil deposits all the time. They profit off the resource until it runs out and then they move to the next deposit. That’s what Nestlé is doing because they don’t believe water is a right, but a resource that big companies should own and sell.

In 2005, former company CEO Peter Brabeck-Letmathe literally said that water should be privatized and that calling it a human right as recognized by the United Nations is “extreme.”

“Water is, of course, the most important raw material we have today in the world. It’s a question of whether we should privatize the normal water supply for the population. And there are two different opinions on the matter. The one opinion, which I think is extreme, is represented by the NGOs, who bang on about declaring water a public right. That means that as a human being you should have a right to water. That’s an extreme solution. The other view says that water is a foodstuff like any other, and like any other foodstuff it should have a market value. Personally, I believe it’s better to give a foodstuff a value so that we’re all aware it has its price.”

Nestlé has made it their goal to control water sources across the country and around the world ever since. If water has a price value, Nestlé sure as hell isn’t paying a fair price for the water. Again, they pay pennies on the dollar for each gallon and make billions every year.

It’s time for people to take back their water resources and protect them from predatory companies that are abusing them for profit. Water is not only a human right, it’s the right of every creature on this planet. Water is the most essential resource for survival. It should not be sold to corporations for any price.

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Stephen D. Foster Jr.
 

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