Feds investigating Nestle over reports of long-expired water permit amid California drought

Federal officials say they are investigating reports that food company Nestle has been piping water through a national forest in California and then bottling it for retail purposes using a permit that expired nearly 30 years ago.

The United States Forest Service confirmed on Friday that the federal agency is looking into claims laid forth last month in an investigation published by the Desert Sun newspaper of Palm Springs, California.

According to the paper’s reporting, Nestle’s permit to transport water across San Bernardino National Forest expired in 1988.

“It hasn’t been reviewed since, and the Forest Service hasn’t examined the ecological effects of drawing tens of millions of gallons each year from the springs,” Ian James wrote in the paper last month.

Nevertheless, Nestle Waters North America has continued to tap into local wells in Strawberry Canyon, according to the paper, in order to acquire the main ingredient bottled for the product sold on supermarket shelves as “Arrowhead 100 percent Mountain Spring Water.”

The Desert Sun’s reporting about the potential impropriety led to an outcry that has prompted federal officials to try and get to the bottom as to why the company has continued to operate for 28 years sans permit, and in the midst of a historic state-wide drought.