One truckload of water from a private spring costs Nestlé ten dollars. They bottle & sell the water in one truckload for 35 million dollars. With that water – water that costs them nothing or next to nothing – they sell bottled water that nets them billions of dollars a year. They take millions of gallons of water from privately and publicly owned property, they pollute, they sue, they sell disinformation and outright lies, they are opaque, they are constantly in search of new water sources. When a town refuses permission to Nestlé to take water, their huge legal machine churns into motion and sues the town. They buy land, springs, and water rights – all in order to sell that water back to you at a huge profit.
Poor Maine has water regulations that lets Nestlé take as much water as they want. Poland Springs has been bought by Nestlé – so they can sell the water all over the world. But at what a cost? The people in Poland Springs know that the water Nestlé sells is the same water that comes out of their taps. But the source is drying up. There is less water coming from it. Try to visit a bottling factory – they are as closed as prisons. Nestlé has the right to take 750 million liters of water per year from that source, and there are only about 40 jobs per bottling company. Nestlé pays the district school taxes – a clever move. Even more clever is the fact that Nestlé pays exactly nothing for the water. It is free. It is pure profit. The school playground and taxes are Nestlé’s crumbs to the peasants.
But wells are drying up in areas around the springs. Water is becoming scarce. A few years ago, Nestlé sent people to South America to negotiate rights to one of the world’s most gigantic water sources. Along with the negotiators, were Bush’s twin daughters. Just an odd fact that sticks out. Nestlé takes care of its politicians in order to finagle advantageous deals for water. Nestlé steals and pollutes*, think about it, and meanwhile your friendly neighborhood elected official will tell you they bring jobs and advantages to your town. Well, it will bring trucks – that’s for sure. Hundreds of trucks a week will thunder back and forth on your roads carrying millions of gallons of water they didn’t pay for. They will send lecturers to your schools to talk about water conservation, while they empty your aquifers. For sheer hypocrisy, they are hard to beat.
But there is a growing awareness of Nestlé’s piracy – they are predators seeking the last sources of drinking water in the world. Their lawyers and lobbyists are like bulldozers. They want water. They pay little or nothing to get it. They sell it for lots. It’s almost impossible to stop them with democracy – right now, we live in a plutarchy where corporations have bought our politicians so that the people are no longer represented by their elected leaders. Our “leaders” (hate that word -) are now looking out for the rights of big companies. They don’t even have to pay their taxes anymore. Little by little, we have lost our rights – and the right to our water is a perfect example.
In third world countries, companies like Nestlé are actually killing people – taking all the clean spring water and leaving polluted wells behind. Nestlé’s Pure Life bottled water is delivered (for a cost) to wealthy families. Most people can’t afford it. But you can no longer find drinking tap water in some places. For example, in Pakistan around Lahore you can only drink bottled water. Nestlé’s Pakistan bottling site, 40 km from Lahore, takes up several acres. It also takes all the clean drinking water. The village wells, not deep enough, dry up. In Africa and India, the situation is fast becoming dangerous. Our next wars will be fought for water – unless we do something now. (Oh, and BTW, if you want to win the next war before it even starts, tell your elected leaders we should probably start by bombing Switzerland…) Nestlé uses corruption and local mismanagement to its advantage in third world countries.In some places, families spend half their incomes on drinking water taken from their own aquifers. It is irresponsible – and criminal.
The laws do not cover underground aquifers; or they are vague. Who actually owns the water? Who can use it? According to the bill of Human Rights**, water is a right, not a privilege. Nestlé has made sure it has become a luxury. As soon as a site is polluted, the company packs up and moves on. Do not believe their propaganda. They try to make you believe they will protect and preserve water deposits – in fact, they only want to exploit them, with the help of your friendly neighborhood elected official.
Do not drink bottled water.Do not buy it. Ask for tap water at restaurants. If money rules the world, and our politicians are swayed by money, then with our money we can influence our world. We decide what to buy. No more bottled water. No more Coke, Pepsi, Perrier, San Pellegrino, Poland Springs, Vittel…
I hereby solemnly swear not to buy any more bottled water or soda. I will now only drink tap water… or wine.
* In the USA, 800 million tons of plastic a year are used for plastic bottles – less than half are recycled.
** On 28 July 2010, through Resolution 64/292, the United Nations General Assembly explicitly recognized the human right to water and sanitation and acknowledged that clean drinking water and sanitation are essential to the realisation of all human rights. The Resolution calls upon States and international organisations to provide financial resources, help capacity-building and technology transfer to help countries, in particular developing countries, to provide safe, clean, accessible and affordable drinking water and sanitation for all.
In November 2002, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights adopted General Comment No. 15 on the right to water. Article I.1 states that “The human right to water is indispensable for leading a life in human dignity. It is a prerequisite for the realization of other human rights”. Comment No. 15 also defined the right to water as the right of everyone to sufficient, safe, acceptable and physically accessible and affordable water for personal and domestic uses.
- Resolution A/RES/64/292. United Nations General Assembly, July 2010
- General Comment No. 15. The right to water. UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, November 2002