Fight Nestlé Privatizing Our Water!
International companies should not profit off fresh water taken cheaply from people who need it.
Nestlé has taken over 4 billion gallons of fresh water from the people of Michigan. For only $200 a year per well they pump it, truck it to a bottling plant, bottle it in plastic, and distribute around the world. Nestle made over $343 million in 2016 alone. Now they want to take more from us ...and sell it back.
Nestlé began taking water from Michigan in 2000. They built a water bottling plant in Stanwood, which is currently expanding. Nestlé has taken over 4 billion gallons of water from 4 sites in Mecosta and Osceola counties:
- Sanctuary Springs in Mecosta,
- at Nestlé bottling plant in Stanwood,
- from City of Evart wells,
- and the Nestlé-owned PW 101 well in Osceola Township.
Permit to increase water taking
MCWC discovered on Halloween 2016 a new application for a permit from Nestlé to increase the water they take from 150 to 400 gallons per minute (gpm) from PW 101 in Osceola township. This water is currently pumped to a facility in Evart, put on tanker trucks, and driven 38 miles to the Ice Mountain/ Nestlé bottling plant. MCWC began our grassroots research and interviewing of many people in Evart who have already been impacted by the “water taking” in Evart. Our question was: Is this increase sustainable for the watershed?
Public Hearing MDEQ
A Public Hearing was conducted on April 12, 2017 by Michigan Department of Environmental Quality at Ferris State University in Big Rapids. Over 600 people from around the state attended this hearing, including Flint and Detroit. Local people and more delivered testimony to the MDEQ and studies were shared by top-notch scientists to the DEQ.
Observations of the watershed’s health:
Nestlé reports from simulated computer models about their water taking. Three times the DEQ has requested more real data from Nestlé. When Nestlé hires contractors to monitor the water flow in person, it is most often made after a heavy rainfall. Thus, MCWC’s citizen scientists (Splashing News: John & Jim Citizen Scientists) and scientists (with PhD’s) are continuing the research. They have reported degradation in the Twin and Chippewa creeks in the Evart area. This information suggests that water withdrawal is not sustainable even at 250 gpm, which the DEQ has allowed them to pump without a valid permit for an increase. Ongoing communication has occurred between MCWC and the DEQ and the research is being continued. We now wait for the DEQ’s decision as they apply Section 17 of the Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) for the first time.
Osceola Township’s Legal battle with Nestlé:
Meanwhile, Nestlé sued Osceola township for denying their application for a zoning permit for a booster station. Nestlé needs this booster station to pump the 400 gpm they would like to take. On November 15, 2017 many MCWC supporters attended the hearing in Reed City at the Osceola County Courthouse where Judge Susan Sniegowski from Mason County heard the case. On December 15, 2017 the judge ruled in favor of Nestlé. The Osceola township Board voted to appeal this decision.
Supporting Osceola Township:
MCWC has partnered with many organizations in this battle. SumofUs (a worldwide organization) has helped by garnering over 160,000 signatures from people around the world to tell Nestle to “drop the lawsuit” against Osceola township. MCWC delivered these signatures in Reed City before the hearing. The lawsuit is costing the township a huge legal bill to defend their right to zoning laws. A huge THANK YOU to SumofUs for collecting funds to pay off Osceola Township’s current legal bills. (Splashing News – Supporting Osceola Township)
It is wrong that Michigan laws allow Nestlé to take 210 million gallons of water, bottle it, and sell it for exorbitant profit. Less than two hours away, people in Flint pay the highest cost in the US for water. Water that still cannot be safely used to drink, cook, or bathe! In Detroit 100,000 have been cut off from their water because they cannot afford the high bills. MCWC will continue to fight Nestlé privatizing the water which sustains us and future generations. We encourage donations to the Osceola Township Legal Defense Fund. (View MCWC’s Position here)
For more information on water affordability in the U.S. read this Guardian article.
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