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Nestle is Draining Millions of Gallons of Water from the Arkansas River

waterAs Colorado continues to deal with major drought conditions and massive wildfires, Nestle is draining millions of gallons of water from the Arkansas River out of a pipeline near Buena Vista, Colorado. Residents in the area aren’t happy, some estimates show 80 percent of people in Chaffee County are opposed to this. However in 2010, all three members of the Board of County Commissioners approved the plan. The water is taken from a pipeline and loaded into tanker trucks and taken to the Nestle bottling plant in Denver.

“…where the water will be used to fill hundreds and thousands and millions of little plastic Arrowhead Springs water bottles, which will then be trucked to convenience markets, grocery stores, movie theaters, and sports palaces around the West. Each month, Nestle will fill roughly 40.4 million 16.9 ounce bottles with the water from the area’s Nathrop spring. By the end of a year, 65 million gallons of Arkansas Valley water will have been driven to Denver, bottled, driven somewhere else, and sold.”- The Colorado Independent 

With 65 million gallons being pumped out of the river, you have to ask what the long term impacts will be to Colorado and even downstream. The Arkansas River also flows through Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas. These areas have also suffered major droughts over the last couple of years and currently still have areas in drought conditions.

This is the perfect example for what is so wrong with our consumption of bottled water, when we have perfectly clean water from our taps. This issue was brought up by VICE in a recent article,

“….There is also Nestle, which sits at the cheaper end of the “all natural” bottled water market, and which is helping to illustrate the general insanity of bottled water quite well right now in Colorado. In this case, marketing equals an unceasing stream of semi-trucks driving between a series of wells and a bottling plant in Denver, about three hours away. One truck pulls up, fills, and drives on, to be immediately replaced by another empty truck, and so on. In the process, they are draining an aquifer that feeds the Arkansas River.” – read more

VICE goes on to talk about how Nestle is allowed to do this. They buy rights to water from Aurora, Colorado, the water they take from the Arkansas is replaced by Aurora’s water supply, not far upstream from Nestle’s wells.

“Owning land on the Arkansas River doesn’t give Nestle the right to take millions and millions of gallons out of it, even if that land is loaded with aquifers. But the company can buy millions and millions of gallons to put back into the river from Aurora, which, like most of the Denver area, gets its water from a big diversion project in the mountains that collects water that might otherwise head downstream along the Colorado River, and sends it to the city by aquaduct. Guess what feeds the Colorado River? The same exact thing that fills the Arkansas and its neighboring aquifers and your bottle of Arrowhead Springs: snowmelt from precipitation originating somewhere over the Pacific.”- read more

With bottled water you are paying for a plastic bottle, transportation, and marketing to get the same water you get from your tap. And with many cities rushing to find enough water, how can we afford to use it in such a wasteful way?

What are your thoughts on Nestle being allowed to take water from the Arkansas River in Colorado? Share in the comments below or join the conversation on our Facebook page

Photo credit: Ivy Main


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Lisa Sharp is the founder of Green Oklahoma. She is passionate about the environment and improving Oklahoma for future generations. She also writes on her personal blog Retro Housewife Goes Green.

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