Another day, another drought villain (or two). Today's edition of “Whose fault is the California drought” features two villains of equal magnitude: The CEO of Nestle Waters North America, and residents of an under-served neighborhood who want to breath air without choking on demolition dust.
Nestle is just one of several companies that have come under fire for bottling cheap public water in California and then selling it back to customers at an insane and wasteful markup. But while Starbucks is backing off their operations in California, Nestle Waters North America CEO Tom Brown is doubling down and being a dick about it.
According to KPCC, Nestle has five bottled water facilities in the state. The water is sold under the brands Arrowhead, Pure Life, Poland Spring, and Deer Park. Brown responded to a question about whether the company would follow Starbucks' lead and move by saying, “Absolutely not. In fact, if I could increase it, I would.”
[jump] Well of course he would. He makes money off it. But as Capital and Main's Leighton Woodhouse points out, there's a good reason for Californians to stop helping him make that money: “If only there were an easy way to healthily hydrate with clean and well-regulated drinking water at 1/300 the price that Nestlé charges, and that didn’t produce .39 parts wastewater for every one part potable water, available at every kitchen sink.”
As for the other villains of the day, yesterday the San Jose Mercury News reported that, despite the drought, Lennar is using “some of the state's most pristine water” to douse the construction site during the demolition of Candlestick Park. Lennar is required by law to use water to douse the site in order to prevent dust at the notoriously windy site from blanketing Bayview-Hunters Point. According to the Mercury News, Lennar should and could have been using recycled water instead of drinking water, and hopefully they will start now.
Still, in this age of drought-shaming, with every use of water coming under scrutiny, let's not forget that not all water use is inherently evil. Bayview-Hunters Point, with its predominantly poor and non-white population, has a long history of hazardous environmental conditions for residents, thanks in part to the neighborhood's industrial past. The neighborhood has notoriously high rates of asthma, and it's important that everything be done to mitigate the effects of the Candlestick demolition.
Let's focus our ire today on rich CEOs, and, as always, almonds.