Nestlé CEO on Bottling Water in Drought-Stricken California: ‘If I Could Increase It, I Would’

Despite criticism, Nestlé’s CEO Tim Brown confirmed that the company will not stop bottling water in California

Nestlé CEO Tim Brown sees no reason to curb his company's use of California water.

Although thousands of concerned California residents and water advocates across the nation have signed a petition to stop Nestlé from continuing to bottle water in drought-stricken California, it looks like their efforts were for naught. Nestlé CEO Tim Brown has confirmed that he will not stop bottling California’s precious, dwindling water supply, saying in an interview with KPCC radio’s AirTalk, “Absolutely not. In fact, if I could increase it, I would.”

Yikes. Is Brown really that unconcerned with the devastating drought the Golden State is now enduring? Apparently yes — but he has an explanation for his refusal to turn off the tap in California:

"If I stop bottling water tomorrow," said Brown, "people would buy another brand of bottled water. As the second largest bottler in the state, we’re filling a role many others aren’t filling. It’s driven by consumer demand; it’s driven by an on-the-go society that needs to hydrate. Frankly, we’re very happy [consumers] are doing it in a healthier way.”

In contrast, Starbucks has agreed to stop bottling water in California after a similar petition put the coffee chain in an unwanted spotlight. Scientists at the International Bottled Water Association have defended Nestlé and other brands that currently source from California’s water supple, saying that bottling water is really just a drop in the bucket: “Bottled water accounts for less than 0.01 percent of all the water used in the United States each year…. And bottled water uses only 0.02 percent of the all the water used in California every year.”

But Jay Famiglietti, a NASA scientist and outspoken advocate of water conservation in California, says that their assessment is not quite true, and notes that even drops in the bucket can make a huge difference:


“An acre-foot [nearly 326,000 gallons] is enough water to supply an entire family for a year,” Famiglietti told SCPR. “So, in this time when we’re being asked to flush our toilets less and less, we have to ask the question: Is this really an environmentally, ethically correct thing to be doing right now?”