Communities Speak Out: Nestle, Stop Stealing Our Water
Stay up to date with the latest headlines via email.
Editor's Note: In the lead-up to Nestlé's annual shareholders' meeting this April 23rd, a storm is gathering around the business practices of the world's largest water bottler. Communities across the country have long been engaged in struggles with the bottling giant over control of local water resources. Now many of these struggles are coming to a head and a national campaign called Think Outside the Bottle is using April Fools Day to call on the corporation to, "stop fooling with community water supplies."
To begin bottling in communities, Nestlé has been engaged in everything from costly public relations campaigns and legal challenges to backroom deals for water rights.
Below, is the transcript of a call where people from different communities across the country affected by Nestlé share what is happening where they live.
Deborah Lapidus: Welcome everyone, and thanks for making the call. My name is Deborah Lapidus, and I'm the National Organizer with the Think Outside the Bottle campaign. The campaign is a Corporate Accountability International-led initiative to galvanize support for public water systems and expose the abuses of the bottled water industry.
At the forefront of these abuses is the fact that all across North America, Nestlé, the world's largest food and beverage corporation, is staking claim to community water resources.
In the days leading up to its annual shareholders' meeting, Nestlé is looking to increase the number of bottling facilities it owns, making yet another run at bottling Mt. Shasta water over community opposition, looking for new sites in New England despite the recent passage of local moratoriums on water bottling, securing loopholes in the Great Lakes Compact to continue to export water from Michigan, and expanding its Florida operation despite drought conditions.
As you'll soon hear, these water grabs are ruining streams, ponds, wells and aquifers near many of the bottling facilities. Nestlé's practices are raising serious questions about who should be allowed to control water, our most essential resource, and to what end.
At a time when so many are tightening their belts, Nestlé must stop fooling people into believing its brands are something we all should be spending hard-earned dollars on. The fact is, behind the glossy labels there's a corporation that is bent on taking a shared resource from communities and selling it at an overwhelming markup to the rest of us. And what goes in the bottle is generally less regulated than what we can all get from the tap, without the waste and unnecessary expense.
But instead of heeding community concerns, Nestlé strikes backroom deals, runs manipulative PR campaigns to put a green veneer on its brands, and challenges residents who voice their opposition through costly legal battles.
For years Nestlé has employed a range of tactics to wrest water rights from rural communities and downstream users, keeping its abuses out of sight and out of mind of the public. But, affected communities are now making it clear this is a pattern that needs to stop.
At this point I'd like to introduce today's speakers who will provide updates on the latest developments on Nestlé's incursions into communities from the communities themselves. We'll start with Arlene Kanno with Concerned Citizens of Newport, Wisconsin, then Terry Swier from Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation in Mecosta County, Michigan, then Debra Anderson of the McCloud Watershed Council in McCloud, California, and finally Anne Wentworth from Protect Our Water and Wildlife Resources in Shapleigh, Maine. Hi, Arlene. You could ahead and tell us what you experienced with Nestlé in Wisconsin.
Arlene Kanno: Yes. It was about the year 2000 and I'd like to describe our experience with Nestlé at that time. It was disbelief in our community at first then tension and then real upheaval and then we realized that we had to do a constant mad scramble to preserve our quiet lifestyle here in rural Wisconsin.