OPINION: Nestlé is bottling greed

With a renewed permit, Nestlé will be allowed to pull an absurd amount of water from Florida springs, specifically Ginnie Springs. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE/FLICKR

After a two-year battle, Nestlé will now have a permit to pull millions of gallons from Florida springs, taking a harsh toll on the environment.

Florida springs are being exploited, and the public should boycott these companies until true sustainability is promised through the prohibition of overpumping.

Ginnie Springs will now have a daily 1.15 million gallons taken by Nestlé, allowing its spring water allotment to exceed 4 million gallons a day in Florida, according to the Florida Springs Institute. 

This isn’t feasible considering the damage Nestlé has already done to the springs in years past.

Bottling water accounts for 33% of Ginnie Springs’ flow reduction, as found in a 2021 study from Florida Springs Council (FSC).

Sucking this much water up is overpumping, which makes aquifers weaker. In turn, this increases potential for sinkholes and damaged wetlands, according to Preston Haskell, founder of The Haskell Company, Florida’s largest construction company.

Colorado has already seen the effects of overpumping, where it drained its High Plains Aquifer, according to The Denver Post. It was drying up at a rate of 6 miles per year, drawing water down to the point of highly resilient fish disappearing, evidence of an ecological collapse.

Nestlé Waters released a statement in 2019 downplaying the harmful effect it’s imposing on the environment in Florida. It has since been taken down, presumably due to the backlash it received upon posting.

“Springwater is a rapidly renewable resource when managed correctly, and Nestlé Waters North America is committed to the highest level of sustainable spring water management at all of the springs we manage in Florida and across the country,” the statement said, according to Ideas for Us, an environmental non-profit organization.

The notion of one million gallons a day being “sustainable” is reprehensible. This is a clear attempt at greenwashing the audience and trying to convince people they can continue to purchase bottled water while staying environmentally friendly. Their actions, old and new, directly contrast this sentiment.

“Access to water should not be a public right,” former Nestlé CEO Peter Brabeck-Letmathe said at the World Water Forum in 2000. Nestlé added a statement on their FAQ page arguing that the comment was taken out of context, but never elaborate on how that could have been misconstrued.

An environmental group, Mighty Earth, conducted an investigation in 2017 that found industry practices in Ivory Coast and Ghana contributed heavily to the countries’ deforestation crises. Cocoa traders buy beans that have been grown illegally in protected regions, selling them to large chocolate producers like Nestlé, according to Mighty Earth.

Rain forests now make up less than 4% of the Ivory Coast’s landmass because of this practice that Nestlé has contributed to and enabled.

FSC and Our Santa Fe River filed a legal challenge in March seeking to overturn the Suwannee River Water Management District’s approval of the permit for Nestlé’s bottled water operation.

Anyone can help by contributing to FSC’s legal fund through its website. By purchasing a gift such as a reusable water bottle or shirt, everyone can fund the battle against Nestlé.

Places like Ginnie Springs are meant for spring break adventures and summer memories, not corporate greed.