Letter to the Editor as seen in The New York Times.
To the Editor:
In “Bottled Water Is Sucking Florida Dry” (Op-Ed, Sept. 16), Michael Sainato and Chelsea Skojec point out that Floridians should be concerned about the state’s water resources, but inappropriately cast Nestlé Waters as the villain.
Water is critical to Florida as well as to our business. We have a 25-year record of working closely with Florida’s state and local water agencies and environmental organizations on aquifer protection and recharge projects. Recharge projects can involve increasing the amount of water moving from the surface to an aquifer below ground.
In Madison County, we are supporting a project to increase recharge to the Floridan aquifer, and we have developed creative solutions to help protect Cypress Spring in Washington County.
We sponsor Keep America Beautiful chapters, and support Audubon Florida and Ducks Unlimited efforts to restore, preserve and protect Florida’s wetland habitats. We have partnered with Water Ventures and the Crystal Springs Foundation, to teach more than two million Florida students to be good water stewards.
It would make no sense to invest millions of dollars into our local operations just to deplete the natural resources on which our business
relies. It would undermine the success of our business and go against every value we hold as people and as a company.
The writer is natural resources manager for Florida, Nestlé Waters
STATEMENT IN RESPONSE TO THE NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL
On September 15, 2019, The New York Times published an opinion piece about Nestlé Waters North America’s operations titled “Bottled Water is Sucking Florida Dry.”
While we can appreciate it is an opinion piece, facts were not verified, and as a result, the piece painted a largely inaccurate and deeply misleading picture of Nestlé Waters North America’s operations in the state of Florida and elsewhere in the United States.
To understand the facts about our operations in Florida, please visit the link below.
In Florida, Nestlé Waters North America (NWNA)’s commitment to maintaining the health and long-term sustainability of Florida’s waterways is a top priority. We feel it is important to clear up some recent misconceptions about our operations in the state by sharing some important information.
At NWNA we adhere to all relevant regulatory and state standards. Just like all the previous owners of the High Springs factory which manufactured bottled water and other beverages, we are buying water from a private company, Seven Springs, which owns the valid water use permit associated with the spring water source.
As the permit holder, Seven Springs is governed by local and state authorities just like all other water use permit holders. That means they are allowed to sell the permitted amount of water – and no more than that – whether to NWNA or to anyone else. This has been the case for the last 20 years.
It’s important to understand that the Seven Springs permit requires the permit holders to report the total volume of water used monthly. This information is provided to the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD), a branch of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, who post it online for review by the public. Using water in excess of the permitted amount would be cause for action by the SRWMD, which can include fines or possible revocation of the water use permit. The amount of water Seven Springs uses will continue to be public record.
Spring water 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.
Here are some examples of how we implement a robust sustainability management process at Ginnie Springs:
- Installing a series of monitoring wells to measure water level and the water quality of the site. We installed this system since beginning our work with Seven Springs just six months ago. As we learn more about the site, depending on what the science tells us, we will enhance the monitoring program.
- Working closely with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP), the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD) and county government, all organizations that have been tasked by the State to maintain the sustainability of springs in Florida.
- Deploying a natural resource manager and a team of water resource professionals who focus on helping to ensure the sustainability of the spring. These experts monitor and maintain ongoing records.
By way of context, according to a United States Geological Survey (USGS) monitoring system that measures water flow near the Ginnie Springs site, the maximum amount of water withdrawals allowed by the permit held by Seven Springs (approximately 1.2 million gallons a day) represents less than one half of one percent (0.5%) of the average flow of the Santa Fe River at that USGS site. This is an estimate based upon observed daily flows in the river by the USGS for the last 33 years.
We are currently buying less water than the bottled water companies that previously owned the High Springs factory. However, we anticipate that over time, the amount of water we buy from Seven Springs will increase, as consumer demand for healthy beverages increases. Regardless of increasing demand, in no instance will we ever purchase more water than what is permissible by the permit.
We are in the midst of expanding our High Springs bottling facility, and we anticipate that expansion will increase the number of jobs for local residents by more than 60 percent.
At Nestlé Waters, our business depends on the quality and sustainability of the water we collect. It would make absolutely no sense to invest millions of dollars into our local operations just to deplete the natural resources on which our business relies. It would undermine the success of our business and go against every value we hold as a people, as Floridians and as a company.
Nestlé is committed to state's healthy springs and waterwaysOp-Ed by George Ring, Natural Resources Manager, NWNA
As seen in the Orlando Sentinel, August 29, 2019
Read full Op-Ed.
Nestlé Waters North America does not hold a permit for water use at Ginnie Springs. Seven Springs Water Company, a locally based, female-owned company, holds the Water Use Permit issued by the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD), and has held the permit for 20 years. Seven Springs has sustainably supplied spring water to all the previous bottled water and beverage companies that operated the High Springs factory before Nestlé Waters purchased it from Ice River in January 2019. Seven Springs has requested a 5-year renewal of their existing 20-year permit for the same allotment of water allowed by their existing permit. As the permit holder, Seven Springs answers to local and state authorities, the same authorities that all other water use permit holders are governed by.
Similar to the previous bottled water and beverage companies that operated the High Springs factory in the past, Nestlé Waters North America now purchases water from Seven Springs and also pays for the cost associated with bottling infrastructure, maintaining a quality product, and delivery of water.
Spring water is a rapidly renewable resource when managed correctly. Nestlé Waters North America is committed to the highest level of sustainable spring water management at all of the springs we manage. We have a robust process in place to manage for long-term sustainability, from our careful selection of spring sources, to regular monitoring and data analysis. We employ a team of natural resource managers, including trained geologists, hydrogeologists, and engineers whose focus is to help ensure the sustainability of the water sources. We just began working with Seven Springs about six months ago and are collaborating with them to take a similar approach at Ginnie Springs. We have already installed additional monitoring points to increase knowledge about the watershed and plan to continue these efforts moving forward.
Our communities come first, and we strive to operate in ways that benefit both the community and the company. For example, we partnered with the Northwest Florida Water Management District (NWFWMD) last year to create a conservation easement at Cypress Spring in Washington County. This 309-acre conservation easement enables the NWFWMD to create and maintain a public park at the spring. Through our partnerships with the WaterVentures mobile science lab and the Crystal Springs Foundation established in 2013, we have educated more than two million students throughout the state about being good stewards of the state’s water resources and protecting Florida's springs. And starting in 2008, we supported efforts to protect the Crystal Springs Preserve from a proposed landfill facility that many believed would have negatively impacted the preserve, spring and Hillsborough River.
As of last year, Nestlé Waters employs more than 800 people in the State of Florida, spending more than $58 million annually on payroll, providing full benefits to its employees. We have worked to be a good neighbor in Florida for decades. Our commitment goes beyond just caring about the water. We value our relationships with Florida residents and community leaders, and always strive to create shared value within the communities where we operate. High Springs is our newest home, and we look forward to supporting the community for many years to come.
Nestlé supports sustainability of Ginnie SpringsOp-Ed by George Ring, Natural Resource Manager, Nestlé Waters North America
As seen in the Gainsville Sun, 8/8/19
Read the full Op-Ed