California Water Company Ignores Repeated Orders to Stop Tapping Critical Resources During Drought

Sugar Pine Spring Water, a commercial water bottling company, has repeatedly defied the state's water sanctions
California Water Company Ignores Repeated Orders to Stop Tapping Critical Resources During Drought

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The owner of the company has refused to let state officials to see his operations, leading them to install surveillance cameras that recorded the transport of thousands of gallons of water. 

This week, the California State Water Resources Control Board filed a complaint and cease-and-desist order against Sugar Pine Spring Water, a California company that has been listed as a supplier of bottled water to Starbucks.

Earlier this year, following considerable public outcry, Starbucks announced that it would stop sourcing its Ethos Water from regions of California that were already considered to be undergoing “exceptional drought” conditions, and move its bottling operations to the East Coast.

The owner of the company, Scott Fahey, has reportedly refused past requests from state officials to let them inspect operations.

Sugar Pine Spring Water has now been issued a cease-and-desist order stating that between July and August of this year, an estimated 653,400 gallons of water were withdrawn from the company’s collection site, which draws water from both private- and state-owned land. Investigators discovered the operations after installing surveillance cameras outside the property.

Sugar Pine now faces fines of approximately $225,000 for transporting the water to commercial bottling plants over the last two years, despite repeated instructions from the state water board to stop.

If the company resists a third and final cease-and-desist order, it would face a potential fine of $10,000 per day of resistance, or an appearance before the attorney general, according to Mother Jones

Update: A representative for Starbucks has issued the following clarification: “Sugar Pine was verified as a backup source for Ethos water (as cited on the bottle), but we do not source water from them.”

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