SACRAMENTO, May 21 (UPI) -- Protesters delivered petitions with more than 500,000 signatures to Nestle in California demanding the company stop water bottling operations in the state wrought with drought.
Protesters gathered outside the Nestle bottling plants in Los Angeles and Sacramento to deliver the petitions, which were accepted by Nestle employees.
Messages chanted or displayed by protesters included "Water is a human right, don't let Nestle win this fight" and "Our water is not for sale."
"Nestle, 515,000 people say leave California's precious water in the ground," a banner at the Sacramento protest read, referring to the amount of signatures in the petitions.
"It is very disturbing and actually quite offensive that a foreign company is taking our water, bottling it and selling it back to us," Nick Rodnam, a protester at the Los Angeles plant who launched one of the petitions, said.
Nestle CEO Tim Brown previously said he had no intentions of moving water sourcing operations to another state, later adding he may increase operations.
Starbucks recently ceased water bottling operations in California for ethical reasons, but Nestle and other companies like Walmart continue to source water in the state.
Nestle responded by stating the company has "made significant progress in reducing the amount of water used in our food and beverage operations since the drought began four years ago."
"The entire bottled water industry accounts for 0.02 percent of the annual water used in California," Nestle said in a statement. "This small percentage by no means absolves Nestle of our responsibility to address shared water challenges across watersheds. Rather, it underscores our desire to collaborate with water users across the state to identify systematic solutions to the current drought crisis that benefit both communities and the environment."
California's State Water Resources Control Board recently approved emergency drought regulations that aim to reduce water use by 25 percent, a move called for by California Gov. Jerry Brown.
Cities and water agencies across California must now reduce water usage by amounts from 8 percent to 36 percent following the board's decision.