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Michiganders fight back against water privatization as Nestlé tries to increase water intake

Residents are building a movement across the state – writing letter, holding town meetings and going door-to-door – to "protect their most important local resource."

Image Credit: UPI.com
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Michigan’s most important local resource is water. And residents are banding together in opposition of water privatization as Nestlé tries to increase the company’s intake of spring water.

While the Swiss multinational bottled water company recently submitted an application with the state’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to increase pumping from 250 to 400 gallons per minute in the small town of Evart, Michiganders in Flint and Detroit have lost all access to tap water.

Residents are building a movement across the state – writing letter, holding town meetings and going door-to-door – to “protect their most important local resource,” according to EcoWatch. The movement is standing up to water privatization and demanding clean, safe public water for Michiganders.

“This fall we will be releasing our next movie, all about the importance of clean, safe water. We’re going to show the bigger story here: the struggle to protect and provide drinking water for all Michiganders, and really for all people.”

Nestlé is asking the DEQ to allow the company to increase its pumping ability from White Pine Springs well No. 101 in Osceola County for their local bottled water brand, Ice Mountain. But Michigan environmental regulators at the DEQ asked Nestlé to provide the department with a report on the impact the withdrawal of millions of gallons of water would have an impact on the local wetlands, streams and natural springs, according to MLive.

With increased backlash from Michiganders, the DEQ engaged with the state’s Department of Natural Resources, the Attorney General’s office and Michigan Native American tribes as they reconsider Nestlé’s application.

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“It shows the DEQ is taking this matter seriously and hopefully holding Nestle to the highest standards under the law,” Jim Olson, a Traverse City attorney who has fought on behalf of the Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation against Nestlé in court, said. “There is no other way for a decision to be made.”

In a letter written by Matt Gamble, DEQ drinking water unit supervisor, he concluded the “information, analysis, data, and explanation provided does not yet provide the DEQ with a reasonable basis to make the determination” if Nestlé’s proposal meets the legal requirements under the state’s statute. The statute states that groundwater pumping cannot have “individual or cumulative adverse resource impacts” and is “tie-barred” to the  Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act.

The condition of the area’s creeks are in question as the number of trout in the creeks have diminished due to less spring water found to support a healthy ecosystem. And with less spring water, the creeks are unable to cool from the bottom up causing the water temperatures to rise and trout survival is therefore unsustainable.

Residents of Michigan are also displeased with Nestlé because the company pays no taxes or fees to the state or local government for the pumping of water.

“It’s time to speak out against the big-business politics that fuel water privatization, and make a bold claim for clean, safe public water for everyone, everywhere,” Miranda Fox, author of “Update on Nestlé: Michiganders Mobilize to Take Back Public Water” on EcoWatch, said.

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