The U.S. Forest Service has offered Nestlé a three-year permit to continue drawing millions of gallons of water from the San Bernardino National Forest.
Under the offer, Nestlé Waters North America — the largest bottled-water company in the country — will be allowed to keep taking water from the Strawberry Creek watershed. That watershed is currently rated as "impaired" and the extraction is to be allowed "when there is water available consistent with the forest's Land Management Plan," according to The Associated Press, citing the offer.
Nestlé, which bottles the water under its Arrowhead brand, has 60 days to decide whether to accept the terms of the offer, the AP says.
As NPR's Bill Chappell reported in December, Nestlé, a division of the Swiss food company, says it took an average of 62.6 million gallons of water from the San Bernardino spring each year from 1947 to 2015, but a two-year investigation by California's State Water Board found that it lacked legal permits for much of that water.
"The Water Board began investigating after several complaints were made against Nestlé during California's recent drought. Spurred by a 2015 report in the Desert Sun newspaper, the allegations against Nestlé ranged from accusation that the giant company lacked full rights to the water it was selling to claims that its actions were harming the natural environment and its inhabitants," Chappell reported last year.