It is the source of one of the world’s most popular mineral waters, but the eastern French town of Vittel risks running dry.
Nestlé Waters, which owns the Vittel brand, is accused by residents and environmentalists of “overusing” local spring water that supplies the town and its bottling plant to maintain exports. The company denies the allegation.
The underground water level has been falling by 30 centimetres (nearly 12 inches) a year since 1990, according to the French government’s geological bureau. It has gone down by 10 metres in the past four decades.
The consumer association, 60 Millions de Consommateurs, blames “over-exploitation” of the local spring.
Bernard Schmitt, a Vittel resident, said: “We’ve grown used to having this excellent water on tap, but more water is now being extracted than the water table is capable of regenerating. Nestlé says it is using water without exhausting the spring, but that isn’t what’s happening.”