Ethos, a bottled water company owned by Starbucks, is selling spring water from California while the state endures such grave drought conditions that Governor Jerry Brown has recommended a $10,000 fine for residents and businesses that can’t get with the water conservation program.
Ethos — which, ironically, donates 5 cents per every bottle sold of its $1.95 water to water charities around the world — sources its water from private springs in Baxter, California, and has a factory in Merced, where it relies on local water sources.
According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, both of those regions are classified as undergoing “exceptional drought.”
According to Mother Jones, that spring water also doesn’t cost Starbucks anything, as California does not typically charge for groundwater.
When questioned about the business, a Starbucks spokesperson told Mother Jones that the company uses “a private spring source that is not used for municipal water for any communities.”
But Mary Scruggs, a geologist with California’s Department of Water Resources, says that’s not really true. Not surprisingly, surrounding communities can indeed lose out on precious water “if you capture and pull it out before it ever makes it” to those who live downstream.
California citizens and conservations have likewise called for Nestlé to shut down its water-bottling facilities, which source water from wells and natural springs on the reservation lands of the Cahuilla Mission Indians — an area that is exempt from the water sanctions.