San Bernardino National Forest - Photo by Ron Kroetz
San Bernardino National Forest – Photo by Ron Kroetz

By Elizabeth Zach, staff writer

Activists critical of Nestle North American Waters, which has been drawing water from the San Bernardino National Forest for its Arrowhead bottled water, say the company’s permit has lapsed and therefore it should stop collecting water from an environmentally sensitive canyon in the area.

A federal judge ruled earlier this month that attorneys for both the U.S. Forest Service and those representing the plaintiffs should present more arguments before a decision is made.

The plaintiffs—the Center for Biological Diversity, The Story of Stuff Project and The Courage Campaign—filed their lawsuit against Nestle in October 2015, arguing that the Forest Service allowed the company to use pipelines, pumps and other structures on forest land despite a permit that had expired 28 years earlier.

That year, Nestle collected 36 million gallons of water from Strawberry Creek. Its annual permit cost $524 million and, the Forest Service maintains, is still valid until it is renewed or cancelled. The plaintiffs claim, in their brief, that “Nestle has never submitted adequate information to allow the Forest Service to prepare a new special use permit, despite repeated notification and warnings of curtailment if it did not.”

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