The DEQ approved Nestlé’s “request for determination”, pumping 70 million gallons of spring water yearly from Twin and Chippewa creeks in Osceola County near Evart would not have an adverse impact. This came after only a 3-week public comment period after the DEQ and Nestle went public with the proposed decision on Christmas Eve.
Although the DEQ announced the public comment period would be extended until March 15, 2007, this week’s DEQ decision ignored the extended comment period. Apparently Nestle refused to waive the deadline for the DEQ’s decision as required by last year’s amendments to Michigan’s water laws. Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation – leading the fight against Nestle – relied on the extended time period and retained experts to provide meaningful analyses, only to be stabbed by the DEQ’s premature decision.
The DEQ largely ignored comments, particularly those related to the effects on flows and levels of the headwaters of the two trout streams. Nestle and DEQ’s decision used selected measurements of the stream which may have missed the primary area of effects and adverse impacts to a bountiful brook trout fishery.
Nestle claims that it is a “good corporate citizen.” Despite the company’s claims to the contrary, a trial court and the Court of Appeals found pumping caused substantial harm to the stream and wetlands in Mecosta County, and the company recently mounted an attack on the heart of Michigan environmental laws to block citizens’ rights to maintain lawsuits to prevent such harm from happening.
“Now Nestle apparently has refused to cooperate with the DEQ’s extension of time for public comment on the effects of its pumping on two blue ribbon trout streams,” says Terry Swier, President of Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation.
Dave Dempsey, Great Lakes Policy Advisor for Clean Water Action, said, “The legislature failed last year when it passed a new water law that allows water to be commercially exploited. This decision shows Michigan’s new water law is a failure.”
Jim Olson, legal counsel for MCWC, said, “These type of private water exports that diminish our lakes and streams, whether in ships, trucks, or bottles, should not permitted to continue. If the citizens of Michigan do not keep strict control on who, when, where and for what purpose someone is allowed to export our water for private gain, we will find ourselves in dire straits when the global tidal wave of demand for water comes crashing on our shores.”
Nestlé has also been investigating a new “spring” water source near the White River in Newaygo County for the past three years. Nestle wants to truck the water from the Osceola and Newaygo sites about 20 miles to its Ice Mountain plant in Stanwood.
This was reprinted from the blog Black Bear Speaks due to the shortage of information about opposition to Nestle’s plans.