September 12, 2012 -- Standing by its mission to "Return What We Use," Coca-Cola today joined the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) in granting nearly $377,000 to the U.S. Forest Service. The funding will be used to restore water to Indian Valley, a 500-acre meadow that sits atop the Sierra Divide and is in the headwaters of the Mokelumne River watershed.
The Mokelumne River watershed accounts for 94 percent of the East Bay Municipal Utility District, impacting much of Contra Costa and Alameda Counties. This includes Coca-Cola's San Leandro production facility, which derives its water from East Bay Mud. (http://www.ebmud.com/sites/default/files/pdfs/water_supply_system2003.pdf)
"We are pleased to have received such a generous amount from Coca-Cola and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation," said Randy Moore, Pacific Southwest Regional Forester who accepted the check on behalf of the U.S. Forest Service at an event at the San Leandro facility. "Coca-Cola's example of seeing beyond the bottling plant to sustaining the forest ecosystems is a view that includes the greater good."
Moore said the U.S. Forest Service will continue to build partnerships to explore new restoration avenues so that the land will be better able to adjust and thrive in the face of weather-pattern changes and large-scale disturbances such as fire, drought and insect attacks.
Coca-Cola contributed $196,000 toward the project, with the remainder coming from the NFWF. It will result in a stream that can access the floodplain and spread out. This reduces the energy of the water flow and re-waters the nearby meadow. The seasonal water table is expected to stay higher for longer into the dry season, encouraging the growth of riparian vegetation and providing cooler water for fish and wildlife.
Bruce Karas, Coca-Cola's vice president of environment and sustainability, said the company's aim is to meet its water needs while helping to conserve watersheds and improve community access around the world.
"Water stewardship is top of our list of sustainability efforts," he said. "Coca-Cola is committed to replenishing water to communities and nature through local projects, such as this. Our other two objectives are to reduce the amount of water we use in producing our beverages and recycling water used in our manufacturing processes so it can be returned safely to the environment."
The work is expected to be completed in early October with the help of Coca-Cola associates. Volunteers will congregate at Eldorado National Forest on September 29th and play an active role in improving the habitat with cumulative enhancements for downstream users. Similarly to environmental sustainability, community support is the foundation of Coca-Cola's Live Positively Commitment. http://m.livepositively.com/