Giving up water

Daniel Vasilchuk

Nestle Waters North America, a large water-bottling company, has been allowed by the Sacramento City Council to open a new bottling plant in Sacramento.

According to Sacramento’s Save Our Water website, the plant is set to open early 2010 in Florin Fruitridge Industrial Park and will have access to the sierra foothills spring water.

How will this bottling plant impact Sacramento?

According to the Sept. 30 Department of Water Resources drought update, the levels at water reservoirs were only 79 percent of the regular average for August 2009. The state is in its third consecutive year of drought, according to the DWR.

Nestle’s plant would further deplete the state’s already low water supply. California is already gearing up for another dry winter. We need to conserve water, not use it up.

On its website, Nestle claims that it would withdraw only 30 million gallons of water yearly for its bottling operations. But Marty Hanneman, director of the city’s Department of Utilities, estimated Nestle would use between 78 million and 116 million gallons of water, in a Sept. 14, 2009 memorandum to Mayor Kevin Johnson.

While Nestle will be paying for all of the water it uses, there is nothing stopping the bottling plant from pumping more to increase profit. With no immediate limit on how much water Nestle can withdraw, it is clear that this situation is ripe for abuse.

Kristie Harris, spokeswoman for Save Our Water, said that having no clear city requirements or restrictions placed on Nestle is a huge concern.

“The fact that this is being done without any avenue for public input and without any environmental review makes it even more outrageous,” Harris said.

Increasing water extraction and operations in Sacramento will also interfere with the environment. Nestle’s operations will drain groundwater sources and spew out waste, such as polyethylene terephthalate pellets.

These pellets are molded together to create the water bottles we drink out of. The pellets are also similar in size to what most animals and birds consider food.

When these pellets end up in water streams, it puts the marine life in danger of infection, or choking on them.

And the bottles are not recycled by consumers very often.

According to, a resource on recycling, only about 20 percent of these bottles are recycled in the United States.

Such a low percentage means that more bottles will be going to local landfills. With the amount of bottles Nestle will be producing, the likelihood is that most will end up at these landfills.

The amount of carbon emissions Nestle would contribute with the Sacramento plant is 2 percent of the overall yearly emissions in the United States. With the United States already being the No. 2 carbon emitter in world, what reason is there to increase emissions, except for Nestle to make more water bottles and profit from it?

One more thing to consider: Nestle does not exactly have a quiet past. In addition to other lawsuits, Nestle has repeatedly sued the town of Fryeburg, Maine, for not allowing it to expand its operations there.

With much previous litigation, Nestle could very well decide to sue the city of Sacramento if it is denied rights to expand in the future.

Considering the environmental impacts of a water-bottling plant, it is preposterous that the city is allowing Nestle to leech off our low water supply.