An investigation by CBS13 revealed that Walmart is using the Sacramento, California municipal water supply as a source for its bottled water, joining companies like Starbucks, Crystal Geyser, Nestle, Coca-Cola, and Pepsi who were found to be using the already-low water supply in California for their bottled-water products.
Last week, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed an executive order ordering a 25 percent reduction in urban water use across California, The Guardian reported. However, Brown has yet to impose regulations on industry.
“It’s only logical that as the governor has asked all Californians to reduce their water consumption that he holds extractive industries like bottled water to the same standard, yet he hasn’t asked anything of them,” said Food & Water Watch’s California director Adam Scow.
“At the end of the day, bottling the public’s water for private profit is not in the public interest,” said Scow.
Walmart draws water for its products from municipal supplies, like Sacramento’s, as a means to keep costs down, so, of course, this drought concerns the retail conglomerate.
“We share those concerns and are tracking it closely,” a Walmart spokesperson told The Guardian. “Our commitment to sustainability includes efforts to minimize water use in our facilities. We have and continue to work with our suppliers to act responsibly while meeting the needs of customers who count on us across California.”
Starbucks recently announced that it would be stopping production of its bottled water, Ethos, in California, shifting its operations to Pennsylvania over the next six months. But as ThinkProgress pointed out, while it isn’t nearly as dire as the situation in California, 27 of Pennsylvania’s counties are currently under drought watches.
As climate change continues to cause extreme weather patterns across the country, more and more droughts can be expected. Bottled water is an irresponsible use of what little resources some areas have left.
The motivation driving these companies is purely financial. Corporations like Walmart are simply charging customers way more for the same water they could be getting straight out of their own taps. Gov. Brown needs to place restrictions on this industry the way he has the state’s individual residents — and soon.