© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The logo is shown on the Nestle Research Center in Lausanne
(Reuters) – California's Water Resources Control Board on Friday asked Nestle to stop unauthorized spring water diversions in the San Bernardino Forest after an investigation revealed multiple violations and resource depletions.
The action comes from the state stepping up its efforts to conserve water resources under worsening drought conditions.
The contract is in response to several water rights complaints and an online petition against Nestle Waters (NYSE 🙂 North America starting in 2015, which resulted in water supply shortages and an impact on environmental resources.
Nestle, one of the world's largest bottled water companies, has 20 days to respond to the draft injunction and request a hearing or the State Water Board may issue a final order.
The company may be asked to limit the diversion of surface currents to its water rights prior to 1914, including providing annual monitoring reports if the ordinance is adopted.
Nestle's facilities in the Strawberry Creek watershed, a tributary of the Santa Ana River, include 13 locations that draw spring water and divert it for bottling at numerous facilities, including one in downtown Los Angeles.
Arid conditions across the western United States are rapidly following a multi-year drought in the region over the past decade.
Earlier this week, California Governor Gavin Newsom proclaimed a regional drought emergency in two northern counties and ordered state authorities to take immediate action to combat the drought.
"It is worrying that, despite the recommendations from the first report, these diversions are continuing and the state is entering a second dry year," said Jule Rizzardo, deputy assistant director of the water rights division.
Nestle sold some ailing North American water brands for $ 4.3 billion to private equity firms One Rock Capital Partners and Metropoulos & Co in April as the food giant doubles its premium offerings.
Nestle and Bluetriton Brands, the company renamed after the deal, were not immediately available for comment.
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