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Facing the Drought Here at Home

Like all of our neighbors in California (and throughout the West), we share concerns about the severe regional drought. And as a bottled water company with operations throughout California, we understand why you may have questions about our business and our production in the face of these challenges. So we’re here to answer those questions as best we can.

Our operations in the San Bernardino National Forest

What is the status of your permit in the San Bernardino? Has Arrowhead been operating illegally without a valid permit?

To put it simply: no. Our permit to operate our catchments and four-inch pipeline remains in effect until the reissuance of the permit. The United States Forest Service (USFS) has provided written confirmation that our permit is still valid. We are pleased that the USFS’s permit renewal process is moving forward. We shared our comments on May 2nd with the Forest Service regarding their proposed action and look forward to working with them to ensure the Arrowhead Springs in Strawberry Canyon continue to operate sustainably using science-based management tools. The complete comments provided to the USFS can be found here: http://ow.ly/4ntCGG

Does Arrowhead have a legal right to collect spring water from the San Bernardino National Forest?

Yes. The Arrowhead Brand has been bottled for 121 years based on the most senior water rights under California law. This dates back before the creation of the San Bernardino National Forest (SBNF). Our permit with the USFS is related to the use of the right-of-way where our four-inch, stainless steel water pipeline is located.

Why shouldn’t the Forest Service be able to regulate water use in a National Forest?

The Arrowhead Brand has held senior water rights to the springs in Strawberry Canyon since the late 1800s—since before the creation of the San Bernardino National Forest.

Water rights are derived from California state law, not from the federal government. In California, the State Water Resources Control Board is exclusively authorized to regulate the state’s surface water. The Forest Service is required to recognize and comply with state law governing the use of water on federal lands, and has historically honored Arrowhead’s water rights by continuously permitting a right-of-way for the spring water pipeline across the SBNF. The current permit acknowledges this deference to state water law.

We believe the Forest Service’s Proposed Action exceeds its legal authority to regulate water and disregards the state laws that administer water rights both on and off federal land.

We are concerned that the Forest Service’s proposed action would disrupt established water rights and create inconsistent management of the state’s water resources. California businesses and consumers rely on the established system to regulate water use.

How much water are you collecting at Arrowhead Springs?

In calendar year 2015, we reported collecting approximately 36 million gallons. Looking over the longer-term, what was collected in 2015 is 29% less than the average over the last ten years, which had the majority of years without drought conditions.

Is that water use negatively affecting the National Forest?

No, we manage our operations for long-term sustainability. We only collect water that naturally flows to the surface of our Arrowhead spring site in Strawberry Canyon. Our team regularly monitors the spring water flows and environmental conditions at this site.

What steps is Arrowhead willing to take to adjust its operations in the SBNF?

The fact that our operations in Strawberry Canyon have functioned continuously for more than a 121 years points to our effective and sustainable management. Because we hold senior rights to the springs in Strawberry Canyon, our permit with the Forest Service is only for the right of way for our four-inch pipeline. We are not seeking, nor is the USFS offering, a permit to collect water. However we are committing to working with the USFS to develop a voluntary adaptive management program based on objective, scientific triggers and standards. This plan would build on our current stewardship practices, and would include additional monitoring programs that would help to continually address the environmental conditions around the spring sites and respond appropriately to any changes.

Efficiency and Water Consumption

How much water does Arrowhead withdraw in California?

Arrowhead uses less than 0.003% of California’s yearly total water usage. We constantly measure and pay close attention to make sure we’re sustainable and that we are collecting what Mother Nature naturally provides.

How efficient is your bottling process?

We’re proud to say that Arrowhead is one of the most efficient producers in the industry. In fact, we were able to produce each bottle using 3.2% less water than we did from 2008-2012.

But why should you continue bottling California water when residents are being asked to cut back and conserve?

We understand the severity of the current drought in California, and we are taking action to conserve throughout all of our facilities across the state. It is important to note that shutting down our operations in California would only account for 0.003% of total water used in California each year. Stopping the bottling of Arrowhead wouldn’t fix the drought, but it would definitely impact our 1,200+ local Californian team members employed by Arrowhead working hard to bring you the mountain spring water you have trusted for years.

So why not reduce the amount of water you use?

We know water is one of the most precious resources — and not just in times of drought. That’s why at Arrowhead we have made it a priority to continue efforts in all of our bottling plants in California to be best-in-class for water efficiency. It’s part of our overall commitment to sustainability.

So will you try to make your plants more efficient?

Absolutely. We’re always looking for ways to save water in our operations and monitoring the impact on the environment and local water sources. You can learn more about what we do to conserve on our sustainability page.

 

Water stewardship is a primary focus for everything we do. See how we are making a positive difference in California here.

What specifically are you doing in California?

We’re a part of the California community — and so are the 1,200+ Arrowhead employees who live here. So we’re committed to finding ways to save water and to conserve throughout our operations. Under the drought conditions that we are experiencing today, we diversify our supply of spring water to minimize the effect on the individual sources. By monitoring and managing each individual spring, we help care for the spring sources and their surrounding environments. See more on our efforts in California here.

Where does the California spring water that you bottle go and how much stays in California?

Almost 80% of the mountain spring water we collect in California is delivered in the Golden State for the enjoyment of our fans. Like any local business, we have deep connections to the local communities in which we operate and to their environments. Learn more about how we stay responsible to California here.

Our operations in Cabazon

How much water does the Cabazon bottling plant use?

Our operating agreement with the Morongo Band of Mission Indians (which owns the water we use to supply our operation in Cabazon) limits what we can report publicly about our operation.

 

The Tribe and our teams share a commitment that this groundwater supply is sustainably managed for the long-term. We also have regular meetings with Tribal water officials and a neutral third-party expert from a Southern Californian regional water agency to discuss local conditions and water conservation efforts.

What are you doing to promote the long-term viability of the water source at Cabazon?

Under today’s drought conditions, we diversify our supply of spring water to have as little effect on the individual sources as possible. Our monitoring and management of each individual spring is part of our care for each of our spring sources and the environment around it. At the factory, we are currently working to reuse water for cooling and other non-product applications. We are following all of the water restriction rules at each site and have reduced irrigation needs for grass and trees through xeriscaping our Cabazon factory.

 

The Cabazon plant is LEED certified “Silver” and uses equipment and procedures that limit water loss during production, including water recovery for plant use. In 2014, we completed an upgrade at Cabazon that is projected to save 1.4 million gallons of water annually. You can learn more about our sustainability efforts at our springs here.

Our operations in Sacramento

Have you addressed the local residents who want you to close your Sacramento plant?

We welcome open dialogue about our activities in all communities in which we operate, including Sacramento, and are happy to address community questions or concerns. We are strongly committed to responsible water management and fully share concerns about water availability, especially during times of drought.