Editorial: Companies must value people’s needs, not profits

Editorial Board

The state of California is in the midst of one of its most severe droughts on records. Conditions have gotten so bad during the last year that in January, California’s governor declared a State of Emergency because of the drought.

With an extreme drought comes a lack of water and the threat of dangerous wildfires. To help combat this water shortage, the California State Water Board proposed regulations that would reduce water usage across all the state’s cities and towns by 25 percent. A final draft of these regulations will be considered in May by the Water Board, according to the State of California’s Weekly Drought Update.

This 25 percent reduction in urban water usage came about after an executive order on April 1 from the governor. According to a California Water Boards’ fact sheet on the executive order, it was the first time in the state’s history a “mandatory conservation of potable urban water use.” The fact sheet said it was necessary because the snowpack water is at a record low level, the amount of groundwater in the state is continuing to decline and major water reservoirs are shrinking.

While Californians are struggling with the drought and making an effort to cut back on water usage by 25 percent during this difficult time, bottled water companies are continuing to profit from collecting fresh spring water or bottling city water and shipping to the struggling state.

The company at the forefront of this debate over the ethics of bottling California’s precious water is Nestle. The company buys municipal water from the city of Sacramento and bottles it as Pure Life Purified Drinking Water to ship out and sell, according to the Sacramento Bee. The company also bottles Arrowhead Mountain Spring water from springs in four California counties.

If Californians are forced to reduce their water usage by 25 percent during this severe drought, why should a company like Nestle be able to collect water from the state and ship it out to other areas of the country? Shouldn’t Californians be the first to use what little water they have in the state? And during a difficult time like this severe drought, shouldn’t companies match the sacrifice of citizens in reducing its water usage?

It is unfortunate that in a time like this, companies like Nestle are not more aware of the message they are sending to their communities and lack any effort to show society that they care more about people than profits. Nestle has the perfect opportunity to help the situation by reducing its water usage or investing in its communities.

Another frustrating aspect of the situation is the fact that Nestle, in continuing to take water at an unsustainable rate, is not in violation of any state laws. The government oversight of the industry has shown itself to be significantly lacking and has without question let down the citizens of California.