It’s not easy enforcing water regulations in the West. Just ask the officials in California who have been trying for almost a decade to penalize a man who took water from the river system that feeds San Francisco and bottled it for sale to stores like Starbucks.
It sounds like a tall tale, but it’s illustrative of just how hard it is to stop scofflaws from using water the rest of the state needs during a water crisis.
In 2015, at the height of a severe drought, California’s state water agency received a series of complaints about water theft on a small tributary of the Tuolumne River, the source of the Hetch Hetchy reservoir that supplies most of San Francisco’s water.
G. Scott Fahey, the owner of a water bottling company called Sugar Pine Spring Water, was siphoning water from the spring and loading it on trucks, the complainants said. Fahey’s company had been tapping the spring for more than a decade—he supplied water to a company named on Starbucks’s list of water bottle suppliers at the time—but the state h... Read more