Meet the Billionaire Couple Who Took Over California's Water Supply
December 2, 2010 | A newcomer arriving into California’s San Joaquin Valley – the most lucrative and industrialized agricultural region in the United States – might think that the entire place is burning. On the horizon in all directions the brown hue of the air suggests a distant fire. As the traveler advances along, say, Highway 99, the fire appears to peel away, a deep stain floating off in the distance, as if forever clinging to the edges of the sky. Upon moving farther in, one slowly realizes that the blaze does not recede. The traveler does not move toward the fire, but within it. The arid San Joaquin Valley has some of the worst air pollution in the country, a daily cloud of smog and soot that rises from interstate automobile traffic, the belching of a few million cows packed into mega-dairies, the incineration of toxic waste, and the constant fueling of irrigation pumps and food processing plants – all weaving a faded yellow curtain that hangs in the air.
Water Supply in CA Town Contaminated with Toxic Chemical Used to Make Explosives
The vast majority of the time, tap water is your best bet for clean, cheap water in the US. Not so in Barstow, CA. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger recently declared a state of emergency in San Bernadino County when it was discovered that the water supply was contaminated with the toxic chemical perchlorate. Perchlorate is commonly used to make explosives and rocket fuel.
The McCloud Watershed Council
The Nestle Project In September 2003, the McCloud Community Service District entered into a contract with Nestlé, the world's largest food and beverage corporation. The deal entitles Nestlé to 1600 acre-feet of McCloud's spring water per year, and the use of unlimited ground water. If this contract is allowed to stand, under a variety of local, state and federal laws, and international trade agreements, it could effectively prevent local control or protection of McCloud's water for the next 100 years. The people of McCloud were excluded from any part of the negotiating process between the District and Nestlé. Unless the people who care about McCloud come together and act, we all stand to lose much more than water. This issue has already disturbed our sense of community, caused friction between friends and within families and brought into question the decisions made by of our locally elected officials.
Supreme Court rejects Nestle contract appeal
Mt. Shasta News, May 2, 2007—
Without comment, the California Supreme Court declined to review a January 2007 Third Appellate Court decision that reinstated the contract between Nestle and the McCloud Community Services District for Nestle to build a water bottling plant on the outskirts of the town.
Bottled Water Boycott Highlights Waste, Resource Depletion
The New Standard, April 26, 2007—
Environmentalists are calling for a boycott of bottled water in an effort to reduce the use of fossil fuels, protect the environment and protect local drinking supplies.
Multinationals Exploit Groundwater Sources, and People Suffer
Privatizing water supplies is only a pretext for multinational corporations to take control of the precious resources of the people at large, activists in US charge. With sales of over $35 billion worldwide in the bottled water market, corporations are doing whatever it takes to buy up pristine springs in some of the country's most beautiful places. Especially notorious is Nestlé, which controls one-third of the U.S. market and sells 70 different brand names -- such as Arrowhead, Calistoga, Deer Park, Perrier, Poland Spring and Ice Mountain. It draws its supplies from as many as 75 springs located all over the US. Nestlé's latest target is McCloud, located in the shadow of Northern California's snow-capped Mt. Shasta. The town of McCloud has worked hard to try to reinvent itself in recent years. McCloud is a former timber town that is learning how to stand on its own feet again after the lumber companies bottomed out and took off.
Nestle contract being appealed to CA Supreme Court
Mt. Shasta News, March 21, 2007—
Concerned McCloud Citizens have announced their intention to appeal to the California Supreme Court a January 2007 Third District Appeal Court's decision reinstating the contract between Nestle and the McCloud Community Services District.
The real cost of bottled water
San Francisco Chronicle, February 18, 2007—
San Franciscans and other Bay Area residents enjoy some of the nation's highest quality drinking water, with pristine Sierra snowmelt from the Hetch Hetchy reservoir as our primary source. Every year, our water is tested more than 100,000 times to ensure that it meets or exceeds every standard for safe drinking water. And yet we still buy bottled water. Why?
Depleted aquifers and water roulette
Redding Record Searchlight
February 8, 2007—
Water is for fighting over, said Mark Twain. As the world's population grows, this will be even truer in the future. Demands for water already exceed the planet's finite supply. Water diverted for new uses steals from existing uses. Add global warming, earthquakes, prolonged droughts, and ongoing loss of natural habitat such as streams and rivers, and the prospects are frightening.
California Trout challenges Nestle water bottling EIR
Mt. Shasta News, January 24, 2007 —
In a lengthy comment delivered through its attorneys, the nonprofit group California Trout claims the draft Environmental Impact Report for the proposed Nestle water bottling plant fails to comply with provisions of the California Environmental Quality Act.
Court says Nestle contract contains numerous ‘ifs'
Mt. Shasta News, January 18, 2007 —
With the Jan. 2 decision by the 3rd District Court of Appeal in Sacramento reinstating the contract between Nestle and the McCloud Community Services District to build a water bottling plant in McCloud, questions remain about a potential renegotiation and how the California Environmental Quality Act will affect the contract and the plant's future.
Thousands of Nestle comments being reviewed
Mt. Shasta Herald, December 6, 2006—
The public comment period on the proposed McCloud Nestle bottling plant draft Environmental Impact Report has ended and the task of sorting out the 4,000 comments and including them into the final EIR is underway. More...
McCloud GM follows Kampa out of town
Mt. Shasta Herald, December 6, 2006—
Mike Stacher replaced Pete Kampa as the general manager for the McCloud Community Services District, now Stacher will replace Kampa as the Twain Harte CSD GM. When McCloud's three new CSD directors took the oath of office and took their seats for a Dec. 5 special meeting, the first order of business was beginning the search for a new GM. More...
Bottled water war heats up election: Pitched battle to control board as former timber town weighs Nestlé's McCloud River plan
San Francisco Chronicle, November 5, 2006—
The water wars rage unabated here in the northeast corner of California, where conservationists are fighting the Nestlé Co. over their plans to tap into a source near what is arguably the state's most pristine large river. More...
California Connections documentary: "Water Wars" - Watch it online!
A documentary film crew from the public television program "California Connected" came to McCloud to prepare a 12-minute story on issues concerning residents about NESTLÉ's proposed water bottling plant. This from their report:
"A powerful battle is brewing at the foot of northern California’s scenic Mt. Shasta, in the tiny town of McCloud. The issue? Bottled water. Many in the town believe that the huge Nestle company is stealing their water by signing a contract to erect a massive bottled water plant in McCloud. Others believe that there is plenty of water to go around and signing a contract that will permit Nestle to tap into McCloud’s large aquifer is simply good business. Correspondent Craig Miller reports."
McCloud residents in uproar over bottled water deal
The snowcapped crown of Mount Shasta looms over this old lumber town like a promotion for spring water. That’s fitting; the communities that circle the base of the volcano are already home to two major bottling plants, and a third is on the way. But that third project, planned by Nestle, has roiled McCloud. Elected officials struck a 100-year deal to sell the company more than a half-billion gallons of water annually for about $300,000 a year. When the contract was signed, it was billed as the way to bring back industry and jobs after the town’s sawmill went silent last year. It didn’t take long for those who felt left out of the process to raise their voices in protest.
Cloud over McCloud
A perpetually flowing drinking fountain greets thirsty tourists and locals at the old mercantile store in the tiny town of McCloud. The water symbolizes this Northern California community's close link to the springs that spout out of the base of Mount Shasta and once supplied an old lumber mill that until 2003 provided employment for many of McCloud's residents. It is the future of this water that has divided the 1,343-resident town after the giant Swiss corporation Nestle announced plans to build a 1 million-square foot bottling plant on the old mill site that would sprawl over 22 acres. "This is the super center of water bottling," said retired 72-year-old McCloud resident Frank DeRoss, one of many local critics of the Nestle proposal. Located next to Hoo-Hoo Park, the bottling facility would operate round the clock, generating as many as 1,100 vehicle trips a day. Nestle would use 1,600 acre-feet of water a year, or 522 million gallons.
The Great McCloud Water Caper
The Swiss Way: When Neutrality Works This Well, War Is Obsolete Half A Billion Gallons of H2O Per Year Up For Grabs The Nestle Waters North America website hasn’t apparently been updated since 2003. That is probably why it says nothing about the subject of this article – Nestle’s bald-faced attempt to circumvent the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) by ramming through a secret contract to buy 1600 acre-feet of water per year from a tiny community resource agency in Northern California – the McCloud Community Service District (MCSD). How much is an acre-foot? That’s one acre, one foot deep, which is a lot of water – 325,851.427 gallons. Multiply that by 1,600 and you get 521,361,600. That’s over a half-billion gallons of water each year. I bet even in McCloud a bottle of Calistoga will still cost two dollars. So, aside from the costs of pumping, bottling and transportation, Nestle, a Swiss corporation, will pull out a vast amount of nature’s finest product, drawn from the watersheds and snowmelt of countless square miles, so they can sell it back to Americans. And you thought we were smart here in the USA.
Once-cozy company town divided on plan to sell water to Nestle
McCLOUD, Calif. -- It's fitting that the snowcapped crown of Mount Shasta looms over this old lumber town like spring water promotion -- two major bottling plants are located at its base and a third is on the way.
McCloud-Mount Shasta Area Spring Water Signed Away
Water from Intake and Elk Springs on Mount Shasta was signed away to international conglomerate Nestle in what may be one of the largest water draws in the country (twice the size of Dannon's in Mount Shasta).
An Idyll Interrupted
After a Hiker Noticed That a Local Creek Had Dried Up, He Suspected His Neighbor Was Operating a Commercial Spring-Water Business. And Then Things Got Ugly in Idyllwild.
McCloud residents in uproar over bottled water deal
McCLOUD, Calif. — The snowcapped crown of Mount Shasta looms over this old lumber town like a promotion for spring water. That’s fitting; the communities that circle the base of the volcano are already home to two major bottling plants, and a third is on the way. But that third project, planned by Nestle, has roiled McCloud. Elected officials struck a 100-year deal to sell the company more than a half-billion gallons of water annually for about $300,000 a year.
David has Prevailed Over Goliath in Stockton!
In October, citizens groups in Stockton, California, won a major
legal victory that has raised the bar for water privateers. A
Superior Court judge ruled that the City of Stockton illegally
rushed the approval of the 20-year, $600-million privatization
contract with OMI-Thames without conducting the environmental
review required under the California Environmental Quality Act.
The judge wrote, "Common sense dictates that methods of operation
will differ between a government and private sector based on (at
a minimum) the profit motive...This is not intended as a criticism,
but merely an observation that profit or the lack thereof will
necessarily drive determinations made in how certain actions or
decisions are carried out."
residents fight to seize system from overseas buyer
With just 1,500 customers in this community on the San Mateo County
coast, the system -- a handful of wells, countless leaks and a
26-year-old moratorium on new connections -- had made residents
doubt whether it was worth a plugged nickel.
Riding into Stockton are four corporations that, based on their
checkered histories, have local citizens girding themselves for
what is shaping up to be one of the ugliest political battles
in recent memory. As more unseemly information about these companies
has come to light, residents of Stockton are starting to wonder
who, if anybody, is looking out for their interests. The answer
might be one they don t want to hear: Nobody.
Pull the Plug on Billion Dollar Water Project
The controversial Cadiz Water Project -- a plan to store surplus
water in the Mojave Desert and also mine local groundwater has just been scuttled by its chief funding agency, the Metropolitan
Water District (MWD) of Southern California, at a board meeting
today in Los Angeles.
At today's meeting of the Board of the Metropolitan Water District,
the Cadiz Project was killed. Testimony by representatives of
the Western Environmental Law Center, Sierra Club, Public Citizen,
Alliance for Democracy, and the Citizens Trade Campaign, among
others, urged the board not to delay a decision on the controversial
water project, but to put it out of its misery. Coalition members
National Parks Conservation Association, Taxpayers for Common
Sense, and Desert Survivors are ecstatic.
block the sale of California's groundwater in the name of corporate
Water has always been scarce in the arid West. For many years
Southern California has taken more than its share from the Colorado
River, but last year it was ordered to reduce its take from the
river. Now, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California
-- the country's largest water district, which serves Los Angeles
and surrounding areas -- is searching for new sources to tap.
woes continue to plague Southern California
LOS ANGELES Officials here say municipal water agencies
must reduce water drawn from an aquifer that supplies the 2.2
million people who live in central and northern Orange County.
water sales in CA are paving way for growth
With water unavailable in many of the choice locations for new
housing, environmentalists say it's time to turn back the bulldozers
while developers counter that there is ample water; it's just
in the wrong places, the article said.
County Squeezed as Cheap Water Era Ends
Orange County's water picture is growing increasingly dire. Impending
cutbacks will leave cities from Anaheim to Irvine more dependent
on water imported from Northern California and the Colorado River,
sources that are increasingly drying up.
Leaking Fuel Storage Tanks Threaten Water,
But State Lets Oil Companies Off the Hook
Tens of thousands of underground stoage tanks are leaking MTBE
and other toxic chemicals into Californias water and soil
-- but for the vast majority of them, the state has never ordered
cleanups or assessed fines.
Suggests Potential Effects of Global Warming Could Further Stress
California Water System
There is substantial scientific evidence that earth's climate
has changed significantly over geologic time. Evidence is mounting
to suggest that a significant warming pattern is now likely underway,
which may be associated with increasing levels of carbon dioxide
and other "greenhouse gases" in the atmosphere. The
reality of "global warming" and the relative significance
of human influences is still being debated in scientific and public
policy circles, while impacts and implications for the management
of California's water resources are getting increasing attention.
Perchlorate and the Toxic Legacy of the Cold War -- Sources of
drinking water for more than 7 million Californians and unknown
millions of other Americans are contaminated with a chemical that
disrupts child development and may cause thyroid cancer, but is
unregulated by the state or federal government.
water bond is headed for California's ballot
With more dams and more miles of aqueduct than most of the world's
countries, California is a monument to the manipulation of waterways.
Two-thirds of its 34 million people live where only one-third
of its precipitation falls, and so it sends artificial rivers
over mountain ranges, irrigates the desert, and transports mountain
snowmelt to seaside resorts through a vast network of concrete
channels and pipelines.
Water Report Card
Water quality permitting in California gets a failing grade
Half of major industrial water polluters in California are operating
with expired pollution permits, according to a joint analysis
by Environmental Working Group (EWG) and Friends of the Earth
(FOE). Facilities operating under expired permits include most
of the state's oil refineries and big power plants that are dumping
toxic chemicals including dioxin, lead, mercury, cyanide, arsenic
drinking water contaminated by cancer-causing pesticide
The tap water of more than 1 million Californians, mostly in the
Central Valley, is contaminated with a banned pesticide that is
one of the most potent carcinogens known. Yet current standards
for the compound allow exposure to 100 times the "safe"
adult dose and almost 300 times the "safe" dose for
infants and children.
California has a long and storied water past. Many things could
be said about the lack of water. California is generally a dry
state and has suffered its share of droughts. In fact, California
is in the middle of another dryspell; consequently, the Governor
of California and the Department of Water Resources (DWR) both
need your help.