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3rd December 2015
...continued from Part One

Five key Nestlé disputes

1. Aberfoyle, Ont.
Dispute duration: 2012-2013

When Nestlé applied to renew its water-taking permit in Erin, Ont., in 2012, the province sought to impose new mandatory pumping restrictions during droughts. Nestlé retorted that other municipal or commercial water users didn’t face such restrictions and proposed the requirements be relaxed. The Ministry backed down and reached an agreement with the company, but three NGOs - Wellington Water Watchers, Ecojustice and the Council of Canadians - intervened and persuaded the Environmental Review Tribunal that the matter should receive a full hearing. Nestlé bowed out a month later, and the NGOs declared victory.

Outcome: Opponents win

2. Zephyrhills, Fla.
Dispute duration: 2006-2013

In 2006, a company called Angelo’s Recycled Materials applied to build a landfill in Pasco County, Fla. The state’s Department of Environmental Protection denied the application and Angelo’s appealed for a judicial review. Seeking to protect its nearby Crystal Springs groundwater sources, Nestlé intervened. It dispatched a platoon of hydrologists, toxicologists, geophysicists and other experts to argue that the permit was rightfully denied. In 2013 the Department again rejected Angelo’s application.

Outcome: Nestlé wins

3. Los Angeles, Calif.
Dispute duration: 2015

Severe, prolonged drought has provoked increased scrutiny of water use in California. An alliance of non-profits have called for a state-wide moratorium on bottling, and in May protesters gathered outside Nestlé’s bottling plants in Los Angeles and Sacramento. Although Starbucks announced it would move production of its Ethos bottled water brand from California to Pennsylvania, Nestlé resolved to stay put. The State Water Resources Control Board publicly supported the industry, arguing that bottled water is a good use of the state’s water.

Outcome: Nestlé wins

4. McCloud, Calif.
Dispute duration: 2003-2009

In 2003, the McCloud Services District signed an agreement with Nestlé Waters for construction of a water bottling plant in the town. An alliance of groups calling themselves Protect Our Waters (including two trout-fishing non-profits) complained that Nestlé would pay a pittance for using local water and generating noise and air pollution; they waged an extensive campaign in the courts and media. Nestlé scaled back its plans in 2008, then abandoned them entirely the following year. Activists celebrated.

Outcome: Opponents win

5. Mecosta, Mich.
Dispute duration: 2001-2009

In 2001, the Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation filed a lawsuit against Nestlé seeking a halt to production of Ice Mountain Spring Water in the township. The group argued that Nestlé’s pumping would lower lake and stream levels. In 2003, a judge ordered Nestlé to cease pumping, but the order was promptly quashed by Michigan’s Court of Appeals, and the state’s Supreme Court decided the group didn’t have standing to challenge Nestlé’s water takings. However, in 2009 MCWC and Nestlé reached an agreement restricting Nestlé’s pumping to approximately half the volumes it had originally sought.

Outcome: Draw