Nestle Waters has abandoned its plans to drill for water thanks to a local grassroots effort in Eldred County, Pennsylvania. The permit Nestle was seeking has been withdrawn due to technical reasons. A spokesperson for the company also cited concerns in the community as another reason for the withdrawal. There is also the likelihood that the lawsuit residents were bringing against the company for procedural violations of the permit process and other misrepresentations would have succeeded.
This is wonderful news, but we often don’t hear about the aftermath of these types of battles. In the case of Eldred County some of the effects the residents are facing include debt, bad health, mental stress, bankruptcy, and a housing market collapse.
When you think about it, what Nestle and other companies are trying to do is outrageous. They are taking the natural resource of water, bottling it, and then selling it back to people for a profit. What is also outrageous are the tactics the company adopts in targeting small communities and their politicians. In the case of Eldred Country they also stealthily set up the process for approval by changing the town’s ordinances.
Nestle no doubt will continue its pursuit of other vulnerable communities in other parts of the United States and world, so the battle goes on. But the victory here helps reinforce the principle that water is a human right, not a commodity and people are willing to fight for that right.