The Muskegon Chronicle is reporting that Nestle (bottlers of Ice Mountain water) is seeking state permission to pump 70 million gallons of spring water annually from the headwaters of two of Michigan’s finest trout streams: the White River (a state Natural River) and Pere Marquette River (a federal Wild and Scenic River). The White & Pere Marquette in turn feed the Muskegon River.
Although officials for Nestle (the world’s largest water bottler) say their study shows the withdrawals would have no adverse effect on the watershed, there is still legal and social uncertainty surrounding water bottling in Michigan, including a pending case before the Michigan Supreme Court. The article quotes Wayne State University law professor & water expert Noah Hall as saying “The $64,000 question is whether a private company can bottle and sell a public resource for a profit. That’s really the heart of the legal, political and emotional debate surrounding bottled water.”
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality plans to render a decision on Nestle’s proposal in January and you can read a lot more in Bottler aims to take more from rivers from the Chronicle.
Dave Dempsey points out that (if approved) the increase would bring Nestle’s total withdrawals to 340 million gallons per year with some of the water leaving the Great Lakes Basin. He also notes that New Berlin, WI, wants to pump 360 million gallons per year, and says it will return all the water to the Great Lakes Basin and says that Michigan’s test is whether, while opposing the New Berlin request, it will cave to Nestle’s.
The Freep has an excellent roundup of the New Berlin, Wisconsin water request.