Precious Water Bottled and Shipped Out of Drought-Ridden California

California is suffering through a record drought. Water is being rationed and its usually fertile agriculture industry is suffering.

Perhaps the biggest reason that bottling companies are using water in drought zones is simply because we’re still providing a demand for it. Photo credit: Shutterstock

Meanwhile, someone in Minnesota or Kentucky or Maryland may be drinking a bit of California’s precious commodityMother Jones reported this week that at least four majorbottled water companies—Aquafina, Dasani, Crystal Geyser and Arrowhead—use water from California, either ground (spring) water or tap water. Aquafina and Dasani both bottle and sell treated tap water, while Crystal Geyser and Arrowhead use spring water.

That’s partly because the brands are based or have plants there. In addition, California is the only western state that doesn’t regulate or manage groundwater use.

Mother Jones senior editorial fellow Julia Lurie reported that while the amount of water used to make bottled water pales in comparison to the 80 percent of California water used in agriculture, the idea that water is being directed away from the drought-stricken state is head-scratching. Even a spokesperson for Arrowhead told her that from an environmental standpoint, “tap water is always the winner.”

Lurie says it comes down to how well the American public has been sold on the concept of bottled water—even when it’s just a filtered version of what comes out of their faucet.

“Despite the fact that almost all U.S. tap water is better regulated and monitored than bottled, and despite the hefty environmental footprint of the bottled water industry, perhaps the biggest reason that bottling companies are using water in drought zones is simply because we’re still providing a demand for it: In 2012 in the U.S. alone, the industry produced about 10 billion gallons of bottled water, with sales revenues at $12 billion,” she wrote.


  • Reply August 14, 2014


    I have more concern about the amount of water used in manufacturing and delivering the bottles. Or about the amount of water used to refine the fuel used to deliver the bottles to the stores. Or that folks are using an energy intensive supply chain at all to drink water, rather than tap water being replaced with bottled.

    People actually drinking water doesn’t seem to be a long term threat – and if it is we’re doomed, LOL. Drinking water is such a tiny fraction of use, that I am more worried about the amount of water used to get this sentence out to the internets.

  • Reply August 15, 2014


    Of significant concern is the takeover of municipal water supplies by “water companies”, such as Pepsi, Coke, and Nestle. There is so much wrong with “bottled water”—the production of the plastic water bottles, made of water and natural gas, the stealing of water supplies, both municipal and groundwater and springs, the disposal of said bottles to landfills, or burned in huge pies in the deserts of places where the US military has invaded and occupied, and in huge gyres in the ocean(no, there is very little “recycling” going on, especially relative to the amount of water bottles ‘thrown away’).

    It’s so interesting that the entire culture feels the need to have upon their persons at all times a bottle–a throwback to babyhood, where most of us were bottlefed, perhaps. And it’s considered perfectly acceptable to have your bottle with you everywhere now–the opera, the classroom, whereever,

    The giant water stealing transnational corporations will not stop until they own every last drop on earth, so they can sell t back to us at hugely inflated prices.. And it appears that us humans are going to continue to aid and abet them in this destruction. Curious that a person can be induced to spend $2 or more on a bottle of water, when they can pour a glass from the tap for pennies or less.

    Sue S

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