According to the Traverse City Record Eagle, members of Kalkaska’s Downtown Development Authority (DDA) are considering asking Nestle Waters of North America to open a water bottling plant in Kalkaska. Citing economic difficulties plaguing the northern lower Michigan community including an unemployment rate of 7.5%, DDA member John Wheeler was quoted in the Record Eagle arguing that it makes sense to exploit the resource that the community has in order for economic gain. While the idea has not made it much further than Wheeler who is planning to arrange a tour of Nestle’s Mecosta County plant, it is another potential expansion to water bottling operations by Nestle in Michigan. Already, Nestle has been given approval to pump more 216,000 gallons of water per day in Osceola County and is considering expanding in Evart, Michigan and Newaygo County. These are both in addition to a massive water bottling operation in Mecosta County, a plant that drew significant public opposition and whose operations are still being litigated.
The increase in water bottling operations makes it clear that the Water Legacy Act, signed in 2006 by Governor Jennifer Granholm to “protect” Michigan’s waters from large-scale diversions and withdrawals, is doing nothing to stop the privatization of the state’s water resources.