MERCED, Calif. — Wells are drying up here from an overtaxed and sinking water table.
Drought and climate change threaten the future of local water supplies.
And Merced has been selling its tap water since 2002 to a water bottling plant, which then sells that water at rates far above what it costs the plant to buy it from the city.
The Safeway Inc.'s water bottling plant in Merced -- one of the top five commercial/industrial water users in the city, which bottles Safeway's in-house purified and spring water brand Refreshe -- uses roughly 50,000 gallons a day, five days a week, for its bottling operation.
The plant, which provides most Refreshe drinking and spring water to Safeway stores in the state, filters city water, puts it in bottles and sells it as purified water. The bottles note that the water was bottled in Merced, but not that it was pumped out of the ground by the city. (Refreshe spring water is shipped in from a spring and then bottled in Merced.)
Some say the operation is just like any other business that buys water from the city.
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