What is your reaction to the recent report from the State Water Resources Control Board regarding your water rights for the Arrowhead Springs?
We are pleased that the preliminary report released by the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) validates Nestlé Waters’ chain of title and reaffirms that we hold valid, pre-1914 surface water rights and groundwater rights. The SWRCB has acknowledged that we have valid pre-1914 surface water rights for 26 acre-feet per year, as well as long-standing groundwater rights for 126 acre-feet per year--for a total of 152 acre-feet (or 49.5 million gallons) of water per year. As always, we will continue to operate lawfully according to these existing rights and comply fully with California law.
In addition to the rights confirmed in the initial SWRCB report, we believe we have valid rights to additional water in Strawberry Canyon. We are working to provide the SWRCB staff with the historical data to validate these additional water rights, including century-old documents to the extent they are available.
Is Nestlé Waters illegally extracting water from San Bernardino National Forest?
No. In fact, SWRCB staff confirmed that Nestlé has valid pre-1914 surface water rights and groundwater rights and we are permitted to continue to use these senior-most water rights. The SWRCB has, however, invited NWNA to supplement the materials being considered by staff to support additional water rights, and we look forward to providing those materials to the staff.
Is it true that the SWRCB has ordered you to stop collecting a significant amount of the water currently used at Arrowhead Springs?
No. In its preliminary report, the SWRCB has acknowledged that Nestlé Waters North America has valid, pre-1914 surface water rights for 26 acre-feet per year, as well as long-standing groundwater rights for 126 acre-feet per year--for a total of 152 acre-feet (or 49.5 million gallons) of water per year. In addition to having rights to the 152 acre-feet per year affirmed in the initial SWRCB report, we believe we have, and can demonstrate, rights to additional water in Strawberry Canyon. We are currently working with SWRCB to provide additional requested information to quantify those rights.
What does it mean when you say you have “senior water rights”? How do water rights work in California?
We have held senior water rights to the water from the Arrowhead springs under California law since the late 1800s. Since statehood, Californians have bought and sold water rights just like other property rights. Owning water rights rather than paying monthly or annual water usage fees is similar to owning a home rather than paying rent. In other words, based on the specific type of California water right a party has, you may not need a need a permit to legally collect that water.
Is this report a final decision from the State Water Resources Control Board?
No. Again, this is a preliminary report. The report itself states that this process is not complete and Nestlé Waters has the opportunity to provide additional facts which could alter the conclusions and recommendations of this preliminary report. We are working to provide the SWRCB with the historical data to validate our additional water rights, including century-old documents to the extent they are available. In the meantime, we will continue to comply with all applicable laws with respect to our water collections.
How will your operations be impacted? Will you need to stop producing Arrowhead® Brand Mountain Spring Water?
Absolutely not. Californians have enjoyed Arrowhead® Brand Mountain Spring Water for more than 120 years. We are proud to continue the tradition and look forward to serving our customers for many years to come.
As previously stated, the SWRCB does in fact validate Nestlé Waters’ chain of title and reaffirms that we hold valid, pre-1914 surface water rights and groundwater rights in Strawberry Canyon. We will continue to operate lawfully according to these existing rights and will comply fully with California law.
We will continue to supply our customers with the Arrowhead® Brand Mountain Spring Water Californians have enjoyed for over 120 years.
Will this report effect the pending permit with the U.S. Forest Service?
The SWRCB report and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) permit renewal are two separate processes. Our Special Use Permit with the USFS is for the right-of-way for the four-inch, stainless steel pipeline we use to transport water from the springs. We are working with the USFS to ensure they have all information they need for their review of our permit. It’s important to note that, in the meantime, the USFS has acknowledged, and a federal judge has upheld, that our permit is valid and in good standing while the USFS conducts the permit renewal process.
Does this decision have an effect on the Adaptive Management Plan (AMP) that NWNA released this week?
No. The Adaptive Management Plan is unrelated to this report from the SWRCB. Nestlé Waters North America is committed to continuing to sustainably manage the Arrowhead Springs we steward. For that reason we have voluntarily agreed to develop an Adaptive Management Plan (AMP) as part of the USFS’ process to renew our Special Use Permit for the right-of-way for the four-inch, stainless steel pipeline we use to transport water from the springs.
The AMP provides transparent, science-based methods for managing water collection at the Arrowhead Springs and adjusting our operations when conditions meet certain triggers. This AMP is based on more than 30 separate biological and hydrological studies and reports over the last two years, and includes a series of interim triggers and proposed actions, as well as a five-year plan for data gathering and analysis. An integral part of the AMP is the longer-term study of the environmental conditions in Strawberry Canyon. Following analysis of these data, the AMP may be adjusted to address actual field conditions.