A permit filed by Nestlé to increase pumping from 250 to 400 gallons per minute in the small town of Evart, Michigan was approved by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ). Despite Michiganders opposition, the MDEQ cited the Swiss multinational bottled water company’s application complied with the Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act.
“Sadly, the DEQ chose to give the green light to Nestlé to continue pumping our water—hanging a ‘For Sale’ sign on Michigan’s water resources at a time when communities across our state lack safe, affordable access to drinking water.”
The permit will allow Nestlé to increase its pumping ability from White Pine Springs well No. 101 in Osceola County – 120 miles from Flint whose resident have lost all access to tap water – for their local bottled water brand, Ice Mountain.
“Michiganders know that no private company should be able to generate profits by undermining our state’s precious natural resources, which is why an unprecedented number of people spoke up to oppose this permit,” State Sen. Rebekah Warren, D-Ann Arbor, who serves on the Senate’s Natural Resources Committee, said in a report by Detroit Free Press, according to EcoWatch. “Out of 81,862 comments filed by the people of our state, only 75 of them were in favor of the permit.”
While residents protested to protect their most important local resource against water privatization, the MDEQ said the department “thoroughly and conscientiously apply the law in reviewing the permit.”
“In full transparency, the majority of the public comments received were in opposition of the permit, but most of them related to issues of public policy which are not, and should not be, part of an administrative permit decision. We cannot base our decisions on public opinion because our department is required to follow the rule of law when making determinations,” C. Heidi Grether, director of MDEQ, said.
Nestlé will now be required to submit a monitoring plan that is “consistent with the requirements of the permit” before it will be authorized to act on the grounds of the permit, EcoWatch reported.
“Folks are struggling to get clean water in Detroit and Flint and having a lot of issues with PFAS contamination,” Nicholas Occhipinti, the Michigan League of Conservation Voters’ government affairs director, said on Michigan Radio. “It’s just a hard, hard road blow to take for Michiganders to see water pumped out of the watershed for other states.”