A large, well-known company is forcing residents in the town of San Felipe Ecatepec, Mexico to scramble for water as they drain wells dry. Thanks to a Coca-Cola factory in the area, residents are being forced to purchase bottled water or to walk two hours for fresh drinking water. The bottling plant consumed 1.08 million liters of water a day in 2016.

Residents Search For Fresh Water

Juan Urbano, former president of the Communal Territory of San Felipe Ecatepec, said, “In the past four years, our wells have started drying up. People sometimes walk two hours a day to get water. Others have to buy their water.”

Urbano said that residents of the region have repeatedly asked state and federal governments to install a deep well in the community, in order to increase the community’s access to water. But the well was never installed.

Chiapas, where San Felipe Ecatepec is located, has the highest level of renewable water resources per capita in Mexico. However, one in three people in rural regions reportedly lack safe drinking water. Both climate change and salmonella outbreaks are said to have exacerbated the problem.

The Coca-Cola plant is run by Mexican company FEMSA. The company responded to reports that it was leaving communities without water by saying it was “committed to the sustainable development of its associates, communities and the environment.”

A spokesperson for FEMSA said, “We operate according with the legal framework and under internal processes to guarantee efficient water use. Additionally we run programs to replenish to communities and the environment the same amount of water we use in our beverages.”

This isn’t the first time that Coca-Cola has been under fire in Mexico. Residents have also criticized the company for the negative health impacts of their sugary drinks. The country has a severe problem with obesity. Over 70% of the population is either overweight or obese.

The same thing happened in India: