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Starbucks Moves Water Operation Out of Drought-Stricken California

The coffee chain said it will use a water source in Pennsylvania to fill Ethos bottles amid an historic drought in California.
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Coffee chain Starbucks is moving its bottled-water operation out of California amid the historic drought, the company said in a statement.

Starbucks said Thursday it will move its Ethos bottled water production to Pennsylvania over the next six months. It is trying to find a new water source for the West Coast, the company said.

"We are committed to our mission to be a globally responsible company and to support the people of the state of California as they face this unprecedented drought," John Kelly, Starbucks senior vice president of Global Responsibility and Public Policy, said in a statement. Stores in California will also reduce water use by more than 25 percent, the coffee chain said.

The company said it made the decision in order to help California conserve water. Last week, Mother Jones pointed out that Starbucks' Ethos water sold in the Western United States draws its supply from private springs in Baxter, California, which is classified by the state as being in "exceptional drought."

Starbucks donates 5 cents for every bottle of Ethos water it sells to the Ethos Water Fund, which makes grants to improve water and sanitation projects in countries that face water challenges, the company said on its website. Starbucks said it has distributed over $12 million since buying the water company in 2005.

California’s water board this week approved a mandatory 25 percent urban water reduction called for by Gov. Jerry Brown, as well as other regulations designed to save water. California is in its fourth year of drought.


— Phil Helsel