California Water Board Directs Nestlé to Immediately Cease Unauthorized Use of California’s Water

Nestlé doesn’t have water rights for most of the water it takes out of San Bernardino National Forest, concludes state investigation.

BERKELEY – The State Water Board confirms allegations made against Nestlé Waters North America that the multimillion dollar corporation is taking water from the San Bernardino National Forest in Southern California to which it has no legal claim. The announcement validates the complaints filed in favor of this investigation by citizens in the San Bernardino region and public advocacy organizations The Story of Stuff Project and Courage Campaign Institute.


The Water Board has directed Nestlé to limit its water take to an annual 8.5 million gallons, what is legally permitted by the company’s water right. Nestlé takes, on average, 62.6 million gallons a year to supply its Arrowhead brand water bottles. To be in compliance with the Board’s conclusion, Nestlé must immediately cease any unauthorized diversions. This includes a series of well complexes in the San Bernardino National Forest from which Nestlé draws the majority of its water.

The investigation substantiates concerns that Nestlé continues to bottle public water taken off public lands in California for private gain without adhering the legal framework established to ensure that water use, in an increasingly drought-ridden state that has been devastated by wildfires in recent months, is reasonable, efficient, and benefits all Californians as well as the state’s natural ecosystems.

In 2015, the Story of Stuff Project, Courage Campaign Institute, and the Center for Biological Diversity, filed a lawsuit against the US Forest Service over its inaction on Nestlé’s nearly three decade expired permit allowing Nestlé transport water from the San Bernardino National Forest. Local residents concerned with Nestle’s water draw filed multiple requests for a review of the companies’ rights with the State Water Board, beginning in 2015.

“With this announcement, we reiterate our call to the Forest Service immediately halt Nestlé’s water take until the company fulfills the Water Board’s compliance recommendations,” says Eddie Kurtz, Executive Director of the Courage Campaign.

“As the people of California grieve the loss of life, livelihood, and land that has been devastated by this year’s tragic wildfires, we have a moral imperative to safeguard water. This ruling shows that our precious resources must be managed with consideration for the needs of the environment and future generations,” says Michael O’Heaney Executive Director of the Story of Stuff Project.

“I appreciate the State Water Resource Control Board for examining the Nestlé (Arrowhead water) withdrawals in our San Bernardino National Forest. My hope is that the US Forest Service will pursue prosecution for making false water right claims in order to win a water withdrawal and pipeline easement permit. A great deal of damage has been done by Nestlé’s water withdrawal and actions. The headwater at Strawberry Creek spring is damp and the upper creek bed is dry, severely altering our forest’s valuable ecosystem,” says Amanda Frye, Redlands resident.

“During my 30 years as a biologist on the San Bernardino NF, the Forest Service had doubts and concerns that the pre-1914 water rights never existed for the springs and wells on forest land. It is good to see that these doubts were confirmed by the state. Now the Forest Service no longer has to recognize these falsely claimed rights. That frees up the FS to do the right thing and implement the Forest Plan direction. A huge win for the public and our public lands.” Steve Loe, Yucaipa resident.


The Courage Campaign fights for a more progressive California and country. We are an online community powered by more than 1,000,000 members.

The Story of Stuff Project, a California-based non-profit organization, facilitates an global online Community of more than 1 million members working to transform the way we make, use and throw away Stuff.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 900,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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