San Francisco, CA–Activists in McCloud, California won a decisive victory yesterday when the bottled water giant Nestle announced it will kill its water-bottling contract with the McCloud Community Services District. Inked in 2003, the deal would have allowed Nestle to pump up to 200 million gallons of water from nearby Mt. Shasta springs, enough water for 614 typical U.S. families. The bottled water giant had since scaled back the plan due to mounting public opposition led chiefly by the Protect Our Waters Coalition.
The announcement came just days after California Attorney General Edmund Brown Jr. threatened to challenge the company‚ contract in McCloud due to the environmental impacts of diverting water from the area.
“The cancelation of the Nestle contract is step forward for customers of the McCloud watershed”, said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. “Thanks to the California Attorney General‚ office the people of McCloud have been given another chance to protect their water from exploitation by Nestlé’s water barons.”
“This is great news for McCloud’s residents, for our ecosystems, and for future generations,” said Brian Stranko, of the Protect Our Waters Coalition and CEO of Cal Trout. “Cancelling this contract with Nestle was the only environmentally and economically responsible thing to do. A watershed this special should be managed with transparency, public participation and sound science, not empty promises and closed doors. We are heartened to see this step in the right direction.”
Nestle had been using the promise of new jobs to convince residents in McCloud of the need for a new water-bottling facility. Yet a recent study by Food & Water Watch reveals that bottled water plants employ few people and the jobs that do create are low paying and dangerous. According to The Unbottled Truth About Bottled Water Jobs, bottled water factories employ on average only twenty-four people and the typical salary of a bottled water worker is more than ten thousand dollars less then that of typical manufacturing jobs. In 2006, bottled water manufacturing had one of the highest rates of workplace injury and illness, with one out of every 11 workers maimed or infirm‚Äîa rate 50 percent higher than the broader manufacturing and construction industry.
Adam Scow, Food & Water Watch (510) 229-8970
Kate Fried, Food & Water Watch (202) 683-2500
Food & Water Watch works to ensure the food, water and fish we consume is safe, accessible and sustainable. So we can all enjoy and trust in what we eat and drink, we help people take charge of where their food comes from, keep clean, affordable, public tap water flowing freely to our homes, protect the environmental quality of oceans, force government to do its job protecting citizens, and educate about the importance of keeping shared resources under public control.