Nestlé have just been granted a water permit, allowing them to extract 400 gallons of groundwater a minute.
The permit was granted by The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) and the water taken by Nestlé will be bottled and sold from White Pine Springs in Michigan.
The approval comes despite almost unanimous disapproval from local residents. A Sum Of Us petition has amassed 376,241 signatures from outraged citizens making it clear they do not approve of the move.
The new permit has allowed Nestlé to lift their original limit of 250 gallons a minute to 400, which works out at 100 million gallons a year. The original agreement was a tiny fee of just $200 a year. The fee will not change for the new permit.
State Sen. Rebekah Warren told Detroit Free Press “Michiganders know that no private company should be able to generate profits by undermining our state’s precious natural resources, which is why an unprecedented number of people spoke up to oppose this permit,” she continued “Out of 81,862 comments filed by the people of our state, only 75 of them were in favor of the permit.”
Heidi Grether, director of The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality defended the decision stating:
“The scope and detail of the department’s review of the Nestlé permit application represents the most extensive analysis of any water withdrawal in Michigan history,” continuing “We are hopeful that whether residents agree with the Nestlé permitting decision or not, they will acknowledge and respect the work that MDEQ staff did to thoroughly and conscientiously apply the law in reviewing the permit.”
“In full transparency, the majority of the public comments received were in opposition of the permit, but most of them related to issues of public policy which are not, and should not be, part of an administrative permit decision. We cannot base our decisions on public opinion because our department is required to follow the rule of law when making determinations,”
The Michigan League of Conservation Voters disputed the decision of the MDEQ, Tweeting:
“Sadly, the DEQ chose to give the green light to Nestlé to continue pumping our water—hanging a ‘For Sale’ sign on Michigan’s water resources at a time when communities across our state lack safe, affordable access to drinking water.”
If you disagree with this decision you can add your voice to the petition here and please share this article.