Great Lakes Alliance Responds to Nestlé Permit
In early April, Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) approved Nestlé’s permit application to withdraw 450 gallons per minute from a well outside of Evart, Michigan.
During the open comment period last year, 80,000 state residents said ‘No’ to multinational Nestlé’s corporate water grab and the environmental damage that is drying up rivers and defying common sense. Despite the overwhelming opposition to this permit, the MDEQ informed Michigan residents that their experiences, data and concerns don’t matter. Instead, the MDEQ sided with the 75 public comments in favor of the permit.
The MDEQ chose to rule in favor for Nestlé Waters which pays the state $200 for a yearly permit to bottle water from depleted rivers and streams. This corporation earned $343 million from Michigan’s water in 2016 alone.
Nestlé and its Ice Mountain brand targets small communities, like Evart in Osceola County and Stanwood in Mecosta County, with promises like more jobs and amenities, but there are few community or statewide benefits. Nestlé sucks out over one million gallons of groundwater that is taken from streams and wetlands each day to fill more than 3,000 bottles of water per minute.
Residents in these areas have testified that environmental impacts have resulted in diminished fish populations, lowered stream and river levels, dried up wetlands, and destruction of aquatic species and habitats.
The Story of Stuff Project is a member of Water is Life: Great Lakes Alliance. Here are our demands:
As residents of Michigan and beneficiaries of the common waters of the Great Lakes, we demand that the MDEQ permit be withdrawn for Nestlé. Further, we insist that the people’s needs for clean, affordable, accessible water and infrastructure be addressed first and foremost on a statewide basis. It is inequitable and unjust to give priority to corporate water profits when our state has great needs. To redress this, we call upon fellow Michiganders to:
- Contact: Contact MDEQ Director Heidi Grether and tell her this decision must be reassessed because it violates court precedent established in the 2009 Mecosta case against Nestlé and 2008 amendments to Michigan water withdrawal laws for any cumulative withdrawal of 400 gallons per minute and should be reassessed. GretherH@michigan.gov | 517-284-6700
- Insist: We insist that MDEQ Environment Deputy Director Michael McClellan require all monitoring of current and future withdrawal permits be done by an independent agency, such as the U.S. Geological Survey, that has no ties with Nestlé. Mcclellm@michigan.gov | 517-284-6709
- Tell your Representative: Tell your Michigan state representatives that you expect them to challenge the MDEQ decision and pledge to pass laws restricting massive water extractions by corporations for nearly free and, instead and establish a water trust fund. Find your Michigan elected representatives at MichiganVotes.org.
The Water is Life: Great Lakes Alliance is comprised of: Corporate Accountability , Council of Canadians, Flint Democracy Defense League, Flint Rising, For Love of Water, Grand Rapids Water Protectors, Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa & Chippewa Indians, Great Lakes Commons, Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation, Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, Detroit People’s Water Board, The Story of Stuff Project, Water You Fighting For, Wellington Water Watchers
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Watch: A Tale of Two Cities, our short film that tells the story of communities in Michigan and their fight to secure safe, affordable, public water.
Take Action: Tell Governor Snyder — Water for Flint, not for Nestlé’s profit