Just 120 miles away from the town of Flint in Michigan where people can’t drink clean water, Nestle is preparing to pump double the amount of groundwater they already plan to sell under their brands. Michigan residents were in disbelief when they learned that their state will approve Nestle’s permit even with the Swiss company not paying almost anything for the water they are planning to pump.
Nestle will have to pay about $200 every year for the process while also paying a small permit fee. Under the Michigan state law, the bottling plant is a private well which allows the Swiss company to pay that small sum. The company’s proposal to boost the pumping rate is just a small part of the $36 million-dollar plan to expand their bottled water operation in Standwood, Michigan. So far, the company has increased the pumping to 250 gallons per minute without a permit. The company plans to use the added water in their Pure Life and Ice Mountain brands and distribute them to the southwest. Nestle says that Ice Mountain is “the number-one selling bottled spring water brand in the Midwest,” and promises about 20 new jobs, but no one actually believes them.
The residents aren’t happy at all. “Why on earth would the state of Michigan, given our lack of money to address water matters of our own, like Flint, even consider giving MORE water for little or no cost to a foreign corporation with annual profits in the billions?” asks a man from ADA. “Please do not attempt to justify giving away our resources for the ‘benefit’ of Nestlé adding 20 more jobs.”
A woman from Newaygo also voiced her concerns. “Please, please, please reconsider allowing Nestlé to pump additional gallons of water from their facility near Evart. The rape of our Michigan inland fresh water sources is a cause for concern, especially when it is done by a private company for profit.”
People from Michigan sued Nestle a decade ago for a similar permit that would have allowed the company to pump 400 gallons of water per minute at a Michigan plant. The settlement allowed Nestle to pump 218 gallons of water per minute. Of course, the company plans to proceed forward. “We appreciate that some people may have concerns … sustainability and water quality are top priorities for us as well. We are deepening our investment in Michigan to meet growing consumer demand. As we do so, we are committed to an open, transparent process that allows the public to share their views and learn more about our operations,” Christopher Rieck, a spokesperson for Nestle North America said in a statement.