Jun 11 2015

US Forest Service Allows Draining of Water in California by Expired Water Extraction Permits

Almonds aren’t the only “big gulp” users of California water.

Each almond shipped out of California required one gallon of our water, a crop that has doubled since 2005, and alfalfa grown for animal feed consumes 20% of irrigation water in the state,  much of which is shipped out, as far away as China.

California water is also shipped out in bottles. Nestle’s Pure Life brand and its Arrowhead Mountain Spring Water bottles water come from a spring on the  Morongo Indian Reservation east of Los Angeles in Millard Canyon, California.  As a sovereign nation, the reservation is not under state law.  However, the water leaves the reservation  across the San Bernardino National Forest to reach the bottling plant.  Nestlé Water’s permit expired in 1988. The U.S. Forest Service announced it would reassess the permit.

Nestle’s permit is not the only out of date water permit in national forests in California. The Desert Sun newspaper reported that 616 water extraction permits are past their expiration dates.

Because those permits haven’t been formally renewed in years, the agency largely hasn’t studied how the taking of that water from public lands may be affecting creeks, wildlife and water supplies downstream. Many of the permits listed as being past their expiration dates are for pipelines that siphon off water from wells and springs in national forests. The pipelines run to the tanks of water districts, as well as to cabins, neighborhoods and properties such as cemeteries, lodges and ranches.

Nestlé insists its permit remains in effect, pointing out that it has continued to pay its annual fee of $524 to the National Forest. A spokesman for the the U.S. Forest Service says the application for renewal of the permit has been under consideration since 1988.

Leave a Comment