Activists speak against Nestle proposal for Michigan groundwater - WNEM TV 5

Activists speak against Nestle proposal for Michigan groundwater

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LANSING, MI (WNEM) -

Activists are calling on the state to deny a permit to a company pumping and bottling Michigan groundwater. 

Nestle Ice Mountain wants to nearly double how much water it pumps from two steams in Osceola County, but opponents are worried that will harm the environment. 

The company wants to take hundreds of thousands of gallons from the Great Lakes basin for just pennies a day.

The plan is being considered by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, but the DEQ is pushing back the decision amid a flood of negative feedback from residents.

"This increase is simply to meet with consumer demand," said Nelson Switzer, with Nestle.

The company taps into Michigan's bodies of water and pays the state for the right to do so, which is about $200 for each water well it tapes into.

Some say that's a drop in the bucket and Nestle should pay more for access to wells including one in Western Michigan.

"What we pay is of course what the regulated price is," Switzer said.

A concept called the reasonable use doctrine allows property owners to use groundwater as long as their use doesn't have a negative impact on bodies of water nearby or groundwater. The thought behind the rule is nobody owns water, but everyone has the right to use it.

Some city governments and farmers also benefit from a low state annual water fee.

TV5 asked Nestle if they were eying the Great Lakes to bottle and sell.

"We bottle and deliver natural spring water. And that's a big distinction right? So we're delivering spring water which is Ice Mountain spring water. Surface water is very different and wouldn't qualify as spring water, so we're not interested," Switzer said.

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