Letters to the Editor: Bottled water from a drought-stricken forest — how is this allowed?

·2 min read
Rimforest, CA - December 04: Activist Bridger Zadina cups his hands to drink from spring water pouring from a pipe beside a water collection tunnel in the San Bernardino National Forest. The water that is collected at this and other sites in the mountains flows through a network of pipelines above Strawberry Creek. Some of the water is trucked to a plant to be sold as Arrowhead brand bottled water. Photos taken in San Bernardino National Forest on Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, near Rimforest, CA. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
Activist Bridger Zadina wets his hands with water from a spring in the San Bernardino Mountains, much of which will be bottled and sold as Arrowhead water. (Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: I read, to my horror and shock, that the U.S. Forest Service is allowing a company named Blue Triton to continue accessing water from public land in the San Bernardino National Forest and bottling it as Arrowhead water.

As a lifetime resident of Los Angeles County, I spend precious leisure time in the San Bernardino National Forest. I conserve water, and I drink only from reusable bottles to decrease plastic pollution. These are the things every responsible Southern Californian should be doing, right?

We need our public agencies to lead the way. Providing a permit for a private company to take water from a drought-prone national forest does not make sense.

Blue Triton's ability to continue siphoning water from the San Bernardino Mountains will soon be decided by the California water board. As our water representative, the board should make the right choice and keep our public lands safe. It can send a strong signal and do the right thing by revoking Blue Triton's permit.

Kelly Lowry, Topanga

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To the editor: This story told me two things that I did not know — first, that the water inside Arrowhead bottles is diverted from a drought-stricken national forest, and that the bottling company does so for free.

Because the $1,950 per year charged by the Forest Service is, for all intents and purposes, free.

It is obscene that we are being asked to reduce our water usage by 15%, yet this company takes more than its permit allows during a drought. The U.S. Forest Service took a laissez-faire approach to the long-expired agreement, then renewed it during the Trump administration, whose leader famously told California to rake its forest floors to stem wildfires.

We can only hope that California will prevail in its quest to stop giving away our most precious commodity. The least that the bottling company must be made to do is adhere to the limits on what it takes from the state.

In the meantime, I hope every Californian reads The Times' story and does what I vow to do. I will not buy a single bottle of Arrowhead while the company steals water from us and then sells it back to us at a profit. I'm not paying for my water twice.

Elise Power, Garden Grove

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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