A number of residents of the picturesque, alpine community of Mount Shasta, California are fed up with their big, new, imminent water hog of a neighbor, the Crystal Geyser Water Company. As Capital & Main reported earlier this year, a group of them have been calling for months for an environmental impact report (EIR) to measure the potential harm that the opening of a new local bottling plant may have on the region’s watershed. With the state in the fourth year of a historic drought, they argued that allowing a multinational corporation to extract precious California groundwater to manufacture and sell tea, soda and bottled water around the world is the height of recklessness.
On Monday, under the name of their nonprofit group, We Advocate Through Environmental Review (WATER), residents filed a complaint in Napa County Superior Court, the district in which Crystal Geyser’s corporate headquarters is located,
“Absolutely not. In fact, if I could increase it, I would,” said Nestlé Waters North America CEO Tim Brown Wednesday on KPCC, when asked by NASA hydrologist Jay Famiglietti whether he would ever consider moving his water bottling operations out of drought-stricken California, like Starbucks is doing. By Brown’s estimate, Nestlé’s bottling business currently uses 700,000,000 gallons of California groundwater a year.
Nestlé isn’t the only company draining California’s aquifers and shipping the water out of state in the middle of a megadrought. In fact, as I reported here this week, the Crystal Geyser Water Company is getting ready to open up a brand new operation in Mount Shasta, at the headwaters of the Sacramento River. And, just down the road from the Crystal Geyser site, plans are being drawn up to build yet another, “boutique”
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Nine years ago, Raven Stevens moved to Mount Shasta, California, after being priced out of the housing market in Santa Cruz, where she had lived for 27 years. She describes the picturesque mountain town just south of the Oregon border as a community “in transition.” By that she means two things: it is an economy moving from logging to more sustainable industries, such as tourism. And it is a community being overtaken by transplants from the Bay Area, like herself.
“We bring our crazy ideas with us,” she says. “And we get a hard time for that. We’ll never be locals. I’ve heard some people say, ‘You people should just go back to where you came from.’”
The house Stevens and her partner purchased in Mount Shasta is about two thousand feet south of an old water bottling plant that was vacated in 2010 by Coca-Cola/Danone.