Business | Environment

Morongo Band won't disclose water usage from bottling plant

A view of the San Gorgonio Moontain in the San Bernardino Mountains of California. Photo by Ivanhny. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

The Morongo Band of Mission Indians in California leases land on its reservation to a water bottling plant but data on water usage is impossible to come by.

Nestle Waters started bottling Arrowhead 100% Mountain Spring Water on the reservation in 2002. The $26 million plant was hailed a major economic development venture by politicians around the state.

But with the state in a prolonged drought, The Palm Springs Desert Sun tried to find out more about the plant's water usage. Nestle Waters refused repeated requests for a tour and the tribe only provided an e-mailed statement about operations there.

"Morongo's successful partnership with Nestle Waters North America provides over 250 local jobs through the operation of a sustainable water-bottling plant that provides water for human consumption only," the tribe told the paper. "As responsible stewards of the environment, Morongo works carefully with Nestle to monitor the plant operations and conduct recharge and other environmental programs to ensure that these water resources remain healthy and reliable for future generations."

Nestle Waters used to provide annual reports of its water usage -- from a high of 1,366 acre-feet in 2002, when the plant opened, to a low of 595 acre-feet in 2005. The last report in 2009 said the plant used 757 acre-feet, or about 244 million gallons of water.

Get the Story:
Little oversight as Nestle taps Morongo reservation water (The Palm Springs Desert Sun 7/14)

An Opinion:
Karin Klein: The invisible high price of your little bottle of water (The Los Angeles Times 7/16)

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