SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Wal-Mart is facing questions tonight after CBS13 learns the company draws its bottled water from a Sacramento water district during California's drought.
According to the label, the water comes from the Sacramento Municipal Water Supply. This comes on the heels of Starbucks opting to move sourcing and production of its Ethos bottled water from California to Pennsylvania.
While the label reads Great Value, the fine print reveals the bottled water is anything but a deal, especially for Sacramento residents.
"Either they were unaware, uninformed or unintentionally did this," said public relations expert Doug Elmets. "It could be all three of those. Whatever it is, it's a bad move and they need to correct it and they need to do it quickly."
According to its own labeling, the water in the gallon jugs appears to come from Sacramento's water supply.
Sacramento sells water to a bottler, DS Services of America, at 99 cents for every 748 gallons—the same rate as other commercial and residential customers. That water is then bottled and sold at Walmart for 88 cents per gallon, meaning that $1 of water from Sacramento turns into $658.24 for Walmart and DS Services.
For comparison, the city of Sacramento says the average family uses 417 gallons of water a day.
Elmets wonders if this perfectly legal business operation will get a big thumbs-down from California consumers. This comes as Sacramento-area water districts are preparing to enforce residential water-use cuts as high as 36 percent.
"It's certainly leaving a bad taste in everyone's mouth when you can't fill up a swimming pool, if you're building a new home in West Sacramento; you can't water your lawn if you're living in this region. And to find out they're making a huge profit off of this, it's just not right," Elmets said.
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He says Wal-Mart should take a page out of Starbucks' game plan. The coffee giant moved production of Ethos bottled water after news its water was pumped out of Placer County and bottled in Merced.
"The reaction should be immediate. And that is to find another supplier outside of California that can be able to meet the needs that they have and also the needs of the consumer," he said.
Wal-Mart sent a statement reading in part, "We have and continue to work with our suppliers to act responsibly while meeting the needs of customers who count on us across California."
CBS13 contacted the Sacramento water district on Friday, but were told its media specialist will get back to us next week.
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