Message from Steve Loe:
Well you guys, here is my take on it. The Forest Service is not going to take any responsibility for being tough on Nestle. I have a feeling it has a lot to do with the current administration. Personnel in the Fish and Wildlife Service have told me that their job has become helping proponents get through the Endangered Species requirements as quickly as possible so as to not slow down the economy. The Forest Service is getting the same pressure to become a new agency and help corporate america.Case in point is that we found out months ago that the local FS was being told by the Washington Office that this project would be handled as a Categorical Exclusion even though the local office did not know how that could be done with one of the most controversial projects in the Forest History and on an expired permit with endangered species.Remember, when this all started and we first ask to meet on the drought and Strawberry Creek, the District Ranger said he wasn’t going to touch this with a 10 foot pole. He said he would be transferred if he brought it up and that the FS would just bring someone in that wouldn’t push it. That was even before Trump.The Forest has totally punted the issue to the State Water Board, even though they have Federal Reserve Water Rights and riparian rights granted by the State and a Forest Plan and laws and regulations that give them authority and responsibility to protect the Forest in the Nestle permit. The Forest, undoubtedly because of top-down direction, is afraid to take on Nestle. Nestle employs the ex Forest Supervisor and the ex Secretary of Agriculture sits on Nestle Board. Trump recently invited 12 World leading corporations to his hosted meal, and one of them was Nestle.The Forest Service is saying they can’t do anything about Nestle take of water until the State Water Resources Control Board finalizes their decision. This is not legally true, but may be political reality right now. The Board has kind-of said that they will defer the Public Trust issue to the FS to determine in their permit renewal. This would be disastrous based on what we know. The Forest Service is re-writing their NEPA regs right now and from what I am getting, they will streamline, give the proponents more say and ability to conduct and lead the Nepa process, do categorical exclusions for ongoing special uses, not require mitigation and on and on. This is bad news. We must have the State involved in the future determination of water use.Because of this, I think we should all appeal to the State Board to jointly work with the FS, Fish and Wildlife, San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District to determine how much if any water is available for Nestle. Nestle should not be the one determining this or the bureaucracy in Washington DC. The Forest was Reserved to take care of water supply for local communities. Nestle is exporting this water on a 30 year expired permit. This has to stop. This is our water and our National Forest.If you can in your comments to the State Board, ask them to stay actively involved in the decision on water use and studies to help avoid political influence being able to take our water.I hope the Board will stand up to Nestle to protect State Water. It is very sad that the Forest Service won’t stand up for the public’s water or the National Forest.I hate corporate influence over our government and public resource management. It is so wrong.
Sample letter – please send it by 9th:
February 6, 2018
Senior Water Resource Control Engineer
Enforcement Unit 3, Division of Water Rights
State Water Resources Control Board
Phone: (916) 323-9407
Fax: (916) 341-5400
Dear Mr. Vasquez,
I am writing to thank you and the Water Resources Control Board for the thorough Report of Investigation (INV 8217) of December 20, 2017, regarding water rights claimed by Nestle Waters of North America in the Strawberry Creek drainage on the San Bernardino National Forest. Given the conclusions of the report, that Nestle’s water extractions have long exceeded the amount of their legal water rights, I urge the Water Board to take immediate enforcement action to halt illegal withdrawals. I further urge the Board to compel Nestle to remedy decades of adverse impact on fish and wildlife in the Strawberry Creek watershed. Such remediation must compensate for the damages caused by excess extraction from 1947–2015, and continuing unmitigated to this day.
It is essential that the Water Board take an active role in protecting this vital natural resource, and not defer to Federal agencies (USFS, USFWS) now subject to political pressures contrary to their role as trustees of public resources. Please remain engaged in the issue, which demands action to study and mitigate damages, and take strong action to protect the water resources that we Californians, and our natural resources rely upon.