Some environmental scientists are saying a federal court decision on Tuesday could be disastrous for wildlife in the San Bernardino National Forest.
U.S. District Judge Jesus Bernal ruled that Nestle will be allowed to continue removing millions of gallons of water from a spring called Strawberry Creek and bottle that water in Cabazon under the Arrowhead brand.
The lawsuit filed by three environmental groups alleged the U.S. Forest Service broke federal law by allowing Nestle to pipe out millions of gallons of public water with a permit that expired in 1988.
Judge Bernal ruled that Nestle's permit continues to be valid because the company reached out to the Forest Service to renew the permit in the past but the Forest Service never followed through.
Scientists who were part of the lawsuit are concerned for the wildlife near Strawberry Creek which is the source spring.
"Those plants and animals have been relying on that creek for tens of thousands of years, and with this ongoing drought, this will be the first time that the creek goes dry," said Ileene Anderson, senior scientist for the Center for Biological Diversity.
According to the complaint, Nestle has paid the government about $520 a year to remove millions of gallons of public water.
"This water is coming off of our public lands in the San Bernardino National Forest, and is being taken out of the forest and put into bottles and resold us at an extremely expensive price," Anderson said.
Nestle released a statement following the ruling.
"We take our responsibility as a water steward in California seriously and that is why we do not pump water from the Arrowhead Springs, but rather only source water that flows to the surface. This ensures we only bottle what is naturally available," the statement said in part.
The environmental groups that filed the suit are looking to appeal to a higher court and also get help from the state water board.