Before we get to our featured article below, it is important to note that the BLM continues to remove wild horses and burros because of “drought,” or because there’s “not enough” forage and water. We know there is a “man-made” drought because the huge amount of water used by mining and other extractive industries (oil & gas). Advocates need to be aware of all of the issues surrounding big users of water from our aquifers. I’ve listed a few sources regarding California’s dire drought below, but there are similarities in other states and areas.
A recent Los Angeles Times editorial by the hydrologist Jay Famiglietti starkly warned: “California has about one year of water left.”
Sonali Kolhatkar recently wrote an article “To Solve California’s Water Crisis, We Must Change the Nation’s Food System.” Residential use of water in California is about 4% and agricultural use is 80%.
Kolhatkar states: “The truth is that California’s Central Valley, which is where the vast majority of the state’s farming businesses are located, is a desert. That desert is irrigated with enough precious water to artificially sustain the growing of one-third of the nation’s fruits and vegetables, a $40 billion industry. Think about it. A third of all produce in the United States is grown in a desert in a state that has almost no water left.”
Kolhatkar also states “When water allocations from the federal government were cut, Central Valley farmers began drilling deep into the ground to pump water out of the state’s precious, ancient aquifer. Now, the pumping has gotten so out of control that water is being tapped faster than it can be replenished by rain or snowfall, leading to some parts of the land literally sinking. What’s worse, California’s farmers are irrigating their lands with water from a 20,000-year-old reserve, depleting and probably permanently damaging a reservoir that formed in the Pleistocene epoch.
Shockingly, until recently, California did not even regulate groundwater use, unlike states like Texas. Anyone could drill a well on their property and simply take as much water as they needed for their own use—a practice that dated back to the Gold Rush.”
The New York Times also recently ran a big article on the drought. You can read it HERE.
Hopefully the links to articles above and the article below will give you some information on a few (of the many) issues with water and what is happening with our aquifers. The wild horses and burros are “the canary in the coal mine.” – Debbie Coffey
Nestle Continues Stealing World’s Water During Drought
“Nestlé is draining California aquifers, from Sacramento alone taking 80 million gallons annually. Nestlé then sells the people’s water back to them at great profit under many dozen brand names.”
The Arrowhead Mountain Water Company bottling plant, owned by Swiss conglomerate Nestle, on the Morongo Indian Reservation near Cabazon, Calif. Photo credit: Damian Dovarganes
The city of Sacramento is in the fourth year of a record drought – yet the Nestlé Corporation continues to bottle city water to sell back to the public at a big profit, local activists charge.
The Nestlé Water Bottling Plant in Sacramento is the target of a major press conference on Tuesday, March 17, by a water coalition that claims the company is draining up to 80 million gallons of water a year from Sacramento aquifers during the drought.
The coalition, the crunchnestle alliance, says that City Hall has made this use of the water supply possible through a “corporate welfare giveaway,” according to a press advisory.
A coalition of environmentalists, Native Americans and other concerned people announced the press conference will take place at March 17 at 5 p.m. at new Sacramento City Hall, 915 I Street, Sacramento.
The coalition will release details of a protest on Friday, March 20, at the South Sacramento Nestlé plant designed to “shut down” the facility. The coalition is calling on Nestlé to pay rates commensurate with their enormous profit, or voluntarily close down.
“The coalition is protesting Nestlé’s virtually unlimited use of water – up to 80 million gallons a year drawn from local aquifers – while Sacramentans (like other Californians) who use a mere 7 to 10 percent of total water used in the State of California, have had severe restrictions and limitations forced upon them,” according to the coalition.
“Nestlé pays only 65 cents for each 470 gallons it pumps out of the ground – the same rate as an average residential water user. But the company can turn the area’s water around, and sell it back to Sacramento at mammoth profits,” the coalition said.
Activists say that Sacramento officials have refused attempts to obtain details of Nestlé’s water used. Coalition members have addressed the Sacramento City Council and requested that Nestle’ either pay a commercial rate under a two tier level, or pay a tax on their profit.
Cracks in the dry bed of the Stevens Creek Reservoir in Cupertino, Calif. Photo credit: Marcio Jose Sanchez
In October, the coalition released a “White Paper” highlighting predatory water profiteering actions taken by Nestle’ Water Bottling Company in various cities, counties, states and countries. Most of those great “deals” yielded mega profits for Nestle’ at the expense of citizens and taxpayers. Additionally, the environmental impact on many of those areas yielded disastrous results.
Coalition spokesperson Andy Conn said, “This corporate welfare giveaway is an outrage and warrants a major investigation. For more than five months we have requested data on Nestlé water use. City Hall has not complied with our request, or given any indication that it will. Sacramentans deserve to know how their money is being spent and what they’re getting for it. In this case, they’re getting ripped off.”
For more information about the crunchnestle alliance, contact Andy Conn (530) 906-8077 camphgr55 (at) gmail.com or Bob Saunders (916) 370-8251
Nestlé is currently the leading supplier of the world’s bottled water, including such brands as Perrier and San Pellegrino, and has been criticized by activists for human rights violations throughout the world. For example, Food and Water Watch and other organizations blasted Nestlé’s “Human Rights Impact Assessment” in December 2013 as a “public relations stunt.”
“The failure to examine Nestlé’s track record on the human right to water is not surprising given recent statements by its chair Peter Brabeck challenging the human right to water,” said Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Watch. She noted that the company famously declared at the 2000 World Water Forum in the Netherlands that water should be defined as a need—not as a human right.
“In November 2013, Colombian trade unionist Oscar Lopez Trivino became the fifteenth Nestlé worker to be assassinated by a paramilitary organization while many of his fellow workers were in the midst of a hunger strike protesting the corporation’s refusal to hear their grievances,” according to the groups.
The press conference and protest will take place just days after Jay Famiglietti, the senior water scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory/Caltech and a professor of Earth system science at UC Irvine, revealed in an op-ed in the LA Times on March 12 that California has only one year of water supply left in its reservoirs.
“As difficult as it may be to face, the simple fact is that California is running out of water — and the problem started before our current drought. NASA data reveal that total water storage in California has been in steady decline since at least 2002, when satellite-based monitoring began, although groundwater depletion has been going on since the early 20th century.
Right now the state has only about one year of water supply left in its reservoirs, and our strategic backup supply, groundwater, is rapidly disappearing. California has no contingency plan for a persistent drought like this one (let alone a 20-plus-year mega-drought), except, apparently, staying in emergency mode and praying for rain.”
Meanwhile, Governor Jerry Brown continues to fast-track his Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the peripheral tunnels to ship Sacramento River water to corporate agribusiness, Southern California water agencies, and oil companies conducting fracking operations.
Read the rest of this article HERE.