Nestle to Sell More Michigan Water Despite Ongoing Flint Water Crisis

Despite substantial public opposition, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has approved Nestlé’s plan to increase the amount of water it takes from the Great Lakes Basin. The plan received over 80,000 public comments, only 75 of them in favor of the request.

And yet, the DEQ ruled that the plan met legal standards and has agreed to allow Nestlé to capitalize on Michigan’s natural resources without the support or approval of the people.

Meanwhile, the people of Flint continue to pay some of the highest water bills in the country for tap water that they must boil before drinking. Nestlé is taking water – for free – from a well only two hours away, packaging 4.8 million bottles a day, and selling it for $1 or more per bottle all over the country.

“We don’t have the power to say no arbitrarily,” Matt Gamble, the DEQ’s source water supervisor told NPR, “We can’t just say no for reasons that aren’t attached to the law.”

The government agency that monitors environmental quality in the state of Michigan is apparently only able to prevent companies from using natural resources based on legal standard and not based on the potential effect on the quality of the environment.

Previously, Nestlé had been pumping 250 gallons per minute from the White Pine Springs well near Evart, Michigan. Now, they’ll be able to extract 400 gallons of water per minute, or 576,000 gallons per day. Nestlé must create and submit a monitoring plan for DEQ approval.

Michigan residents have many concerns about the plan, including putting corporate greed above the needs of the people or environmental issues and the dangers of privatizing water. Those concerns are certainly not unfounded, especially considering how much Nestlé pays—or doesn’t—for the water its taking.

Across much of the U.S., private individuals or companies have the right to take as much water as they want, for free, as long as they drill and pump it themselves. Which means the total price Nestlé has to pay for extracting hundreds of millions of gallons of water each year costs only as much as the annual permit: $200.

This is, coincidentally, the same amount Flint residents living just two hours away from the well have been paying each month for their still-toxic water, four years after the start of the water crisis. As recently as last month, more than 12,000 homes were still waiting for their pipes to be replaced.

This is not the first time Nestlé has come under fire for its water-bottling practices. Nestlé also bottled water at a plant in Cabazon, California in the height of California’s drought and faced serious opposition in Colorado as well.

Photo Credit: Steven Depolo

128 comments

KimJ M
KimJ M2 months ago

tfs

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KimJ M
KimJ M2 months ago

tfs

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KimJ M
KimJ M2 months ago

tfs

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KimJ M
KimJ M2 months ago

tfs

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KimJ M
KimJ M2 months ago

tfs

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Margie FOURIE
Margie F2 months ago

And all that plastic?

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Susanne R
Susanne R3 months ago

Trust me, you're in no position to tell anyone to "get smart and better educated." Stop bothering me.

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Luna S
Past Member 3 months ago

@susanne r the news paper you were reading is lying to you theres no trash in our oceans or trashlandia in the ocean get smart and better educated

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Susanne R
Susanne R3 months ago

In today's paper, which features stories from the AP and Reuters, there were articles about three whales that washed up on shore --one dying and two already dead. A necropsy revealed that the whales' stomachs and intestines were totally obstructed with plastic waste. Since they're not capable of purchasing bottled beverages or raiding recycling bins, it can't be denied that these items were ingested in their natural habitats. We have no right to pollute the oceans --or any bodies of water. The only people who benefit from the production and use of disposable plastic products are the corporations that produce them. Why are we encouraging their behavior and making them even wealthier when they're destroying our environment and killing our wildlife?

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Susanne R
Susanne R3 months ago

From Bloomberg Businessweek: Nestlé Makes Billions Bottling Water It Pays Nearly Nothing For--- "The company’s operation in Michigan reveals how it’s dominated the industry by going into economically depressed areas with lax water laws."

Here's the URL if you want to copy and paste into your browser:: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2017-09-21/nestl-makes-billions-bottling-water-it-pays-nearly-nothing-for

Nestle is just another corporate vulture making a buck at everyone else's expense. Where is government regulation to stop this, especially under such critical circumstances? From what I recall, their permit to extract water expired a few years ago. Why isn't our government standing up to Nestle on behalf of the citizens in the affected areas? I think we all know the answer to that one...

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