NESTLÉ WATERS NORTH AMERICA GETS APPROVED TO PUMP UP TO 400 GALLONS PER MINUTE OF MICHIGAN GROUNDWATER
This story is brought to you in part by Waterloo Biofilter Systems
by Cori Marshall
In an April 2 press release, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) announced that it was granting "Nestlé Waters North America, Inc. (Nestlé) a permit to increase its groundwater withdrawal for the purpose of bottling drinking water."
It was determined that the application met "the requirements for approval under Section 17 of the Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act, 1976 PA 399."
Under the Act, any person who pumps more than 200,000 gallons, or an average of 100,000 gallons of water over a 90-day period is required to file an application with the MDEQ. Contained in the form must be "an evaluation of environmental, hydrological, and hydrogeological conditions that exist and the predicted effects of the intended withdrawal."
Nestlé's application was submitted in July of 2016. Experts from the department "conducted a thorough review of the application and required Nestlé to submit extensive additional information." The review took more than twenty months and the MDEQ Director, C. Heidi Grether, stated that it "represented the most extensive analysis of any drinking water withdrawal in Michigan history."
The application was opened for public comments, the majority of which were against the approval of the permit.
We contacted Nestlé for their reaction to the decision. Arlene Anderson-Vincent, Natural Resources Manager for Ice Mountain Natural Spring Water, Nestlé's operation in Stanwood Michigan said that they had received a copy of the decision. She added that it "will need time to carefully review the specifics but will comply with all permit requirements."
Anderson-Vincent highlighted the appreciation for the "careful review and consideration of the application, (...) we look forward to providing the MDEQ with the monitoring plans as required."
Not everyone is content with the decision, this is clear from the statement released by Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition President Horst Schmidt. "The DEQ approved this permit before groundwater monitoring plans were in place, demonstrating the outsized power of big business - natural resource extractors like Nestlé Global - in our state."
He continued "Michigan regulatory agencies have been 'captured' by the very entities they are supposed to be regulating."
Nestlé is now able to pump up to 400 gallons per minute from well PW-101. The well is not currently outfitted to pump that volume of water and will need a larger pump to do so. A permit is required to conduct the work and is issued by the Central Michigan Health Department. This story has crossed a significant line yet is not over.