Nestlé abandons controversial water withdrawal permit in Evart


OSCEOLA COUNTY РBlue Triton Brands, Inc., formerly Nestl̩ Waters North America, Inc., has announced it will not use the water withdrawal capacity authorized by the permit issued to it under the Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act.

The permit, approved under the government of the time. Rick Snyder’s administration allowed Nestlé to increase its well extraction from 250 gallons per minute to 400 gallons per minute after the company developed a plan to monitor groundwater levels, course flows. water, wetlands, aquatic life and habitat in the surrounding watershed.

Arlene Anderson-Vincent, with Ice Mountain Natural Spring Water, said in a letter to Ministry of the Environment, Great Lakes and Energy that Blue Triton will change its water withdrawal assessment for the White Pine Springs well in Osceola County to reduce the recorded capacity to 288 gallons per minute, a withdrawal capacity that does not require a permit.

Blue Triton has stated that it will not use the additional capacity authorized under the permit approved under section 17 at this time.

In 2016, Nestlé applied for the permit to increase water withdrawals to 400 gallons per minute. Despite overwhelming opposition from the community and environmental groups, the permit was granted.

At Nestlé Waters spokesperson stated at the time that they firmly believed that EGLE’s decision to approve the permit application was appropriate, as it carefully considered the application as part of “the most thorough analysis of any levy of water in Michigan history “.

Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation and the Ottawa Grand Traverse Band and the Chippewa Indians challenged the permit, filing a motion for a contested case hearing.

“When we saw that they wanted to pump 400 gallons per minute, it looked a lot like the Mecosta County case, in which the judge ruled that 400 gallons per minute was not sustainable,” said Peggy Case, president of MCWC at the time. .

In May 2020, EGLE dismissed the group’s appeal after an administrative judge upheld the permit approval, stating that the higher pumping rate was “reasonable under common law principles of water law. in Michigan ”.

The MCWC is currently awaiting an appeal decision from an Ingham County judge to determine whether the organization has standing to challenge the permit in state administrative court.

Case said the group is happy with the company’s decision on the lower extraction rate, but unhappy that the company is still pumping more than what’s already being pumped.

Case previously said water withdrawals have already reduced the volume of water in Twin and Chippewa Creek, two cold-water tributaries of the Muskegon River, whose springs are near the company’s well.

The MCWC says both streams are lower and the mud flats have worsened since Nestlé increased the rate of water extraction from 150 to 250 gallons per minute in 2015.

In 2009, the MCWC won a settlement in a lawsuit against Nestle that limited mining from Sanctuary Springs in Mecosta County to 218 gallons per minute.

The new 288 gallons per minute extraction has already passed the state’s water withdrawal assessment tool, according to EGLE. The company has until March 2023 to install a new pump or the approval expires.

Once installed, Blue Triton can begin pumping at the new rate, which equates to over 414,000 gallons per day at full capacity.

A related dispute between Nestlé and the Township of Osceola over local zoning has hampered the company’s ability to build new distribution infrastructure needed to transport additional water from the White Pine Springs well to its plant. bottling.

The township council refused approval to build a recall station in the township. The Michigan Court of Appeals sided with the township in 2019, dismissing Nestlé’s claim that bottled water met the zoning ordinance’s definition of an “essential public service.”

Anderson-Vincent said at the time that the company was disappointed with the decision.

“We believe that the plan we have proposed meets the township site plan and special use standards,” she said.

She added that from the start, the aim of the company was to limit as much as possible the impact on the local community and the environment, and that the structure would be a positive contribution to the community by adding tax revenue.

The company’s Ice Mountain Water bottling plant in Mecosta County employs approximately 280 local workers and generates an economic impact of $ 14.2 million per year, in the five counties region of Mecosta, Osceola, Montcalm , Newaygo and Kent, according to an economic impact study published on their website.

The economic contribution, including money spent on salaries, suppliers, donations, etc., amounts to $ 18.6 million. In addition, they provide nearly $ 2.4 million in state and local taxes.


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