Now is the time for leadership from Governor Snyder to halt the permit for Nestlé to increase their water taking in Evart, MI. Michigan water laws and administrative policies require immediate repair. Governor Snyder needs to establish a two-year moratorium on increases and new water taking permits. This is what the Province of Ontario did this year, as they faced a similar Nestle application for additional water taking.
The people of Michigan have made Nestlé one of the most gifted companies in history. Nestlé has profited by taking and bottling tens of billions of gallons of Great Lakes Basin water while paying almost nothing in fees to Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality. Millions of Michigan citizens are no longer willing to gift Nestle and want the current system to be abandoned and a new system developed that reflects present day realities. Here are a few of the present-day realities that illustrate how broken Michigan water laws and policies are and why Governor Snyder needs to call a moratorium now.
1. Nestlé is seeking a permit for 210,000,000 gallons of water for a permit fee of $200.
If Flint residents were allowed to pay the Nestle rate for water, their annual household cost would be less than 75 cents, instead of more than $900, for water they can’t drink and don’t want to bathe in.
There have been 90,000 Detroit residents without running water in their homes for failure to pay water/sewer bills. If these Detroiters were allowed to pay the Nestlé water rate, very few would owe more than a dollar and the majority could pay off their debt for less than a dime.
2. Over the past two decades, bottled water has gone from a novelty drink to the most popular purchased beverage in the United States. Approximately 26 billion bottles a year or a half a billion bottles a week are presently being consumed in the US. Back in the 1970’s when Michigan’s container law was adopted, the bottled water industry was considered too small to be included with soft drinks and beer. Clearly that is no longer the case, and water bottles must MCWC, P.O. Box 1, Mecosta, MI 49332 michiganCwaterC@nullgmail.com be included in the deposit laws of Michigan. As it stands presently there is no ditch or section of road anywhere in the state that is likely to be free of discarded water bottles. Nestle has been responsible for billions of these bottles and Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation calls upon Nestle to begin an aggressive recycling program at their newly expanded plant in Stanwood, MI.
3. Nestlé has been responsible for hiring consultants to monitor the water withdrawal under DEQ permits for water taking. Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation calls upon the DEQ to require that the US Geological Survey be responsible for all monitoring and data collection under the DEQ permits for water taking. If Nestlé refuses to use the US Geological Survey for monitoring and data-collection, then their permits for water taking need to be remanded. This change to the US Geological Survey needs to cover all Nestle DEQ water taking permits.
4. The DEQ needs to change their permitting procedures to become transparent and provide the citizens of Michigan broad public notice and the opportunity to participate in the DEQ permitting activities. This includes, but is not limited to permits for large scale water taking.
The Canadian Province of Ontario is also dealing with a request for Nestlé to increase their permit to take water in Ontario. At the first of this year Ontario established a two-year moratorium to address needed changes in their water taking laws and policies. The same kind of moratorium and update of Michigan’s water laws is needed now.
Governor Snyder must stop the gifting of Nestlé. It is in Governor Snyder’s hands. Clearly the people of the state are totally against further gifting.
The DEQ will hold a Public Hearing at Ferris State University in Big Rapids on April 12 from 4pm to 9pm on the Nestle permit increase application. We ask Governor Snyder to demonstrate his leadership for the WATER in Michigan.
Peggy Case, President
Jeff Ostahowski, Vice-President
and the Board of Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation