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Judge rules to allow Arrowhead Spring bottler to continue taking water from San Bernardino mountains

Gary Earner, a retired National Forest Service ranger, observers a BlueTriton water pipeline near Rimforest during a hike on November 20, 2023.
Anthony Victoria
/
KVCR News
Gary Earner, a retired National Forest Service ranger, observers a BlueTriton water pipeline near Rimforest during a hike on November 20, 2023.

A judge ruled last month to allow the company that bottles Arrowhead Spring Water to continue taking water from the San Bernardino National Forest. Activists are now calling on the Forest Service to stop the company’s operations.

Fresno County Court Judge Robert Whalen on January 25 ruled to pause the state water board’s cease and desist order against BlueTriton Brands.

BlueTriton took over Nestle’s operations in the national forest in 2021.

The board last September stopped the company from extracting water from Strawberry Creek — the watershed in the forest that feeds local rivers, creeks and streams.

BlueTriton filed a lawsuit to challenge the water board’s authority. Whalen overruled the water board’s order until there’s a decision on the lawsuit.

Lacey Kohlmoos is with Ekō, a nonprofit group that monitors corporations. She says she wants National Forest Service Chief Randy Moore to protect Strawberry Creek.

"He has the power, the question is whether he’ll be brave enough to stand up to BlueTriton," she said.

A BlueTriton spokesperson said in an email the company is pleased by the judge's decision. Meanwhile, the board said in a statement they’ll defend their cease and desist order in court.

Anthony Victoria is a UC Berkeley Local News Fellow reporting for KVCR News.