Target: Heidi Grether, Director of Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality
Goal: Do not approve Nestle’s plan to expand its water consumption at a plant in Evart, MI.
With the Flint water crisis still largely unresolved, Michigan residents now face yet another disturbing water issue – Nestle, which operates a plant near Evart, Michigan, has made plans to massively expand the amount of groundwater it pumps from the state. Nestle wants to up its consumption to 210 million gallons a year, more than double what the company is currently pumping from the site. The clincher is that this plan would cost the Nestle just $200 per year – less than one dollar per million gallons – because Michigan state law considers the Nestle plant to be a private well.
Many residents are concerned and angered by this plan, noting that the Nestle plant sits a mere 120 miles away from Flint, where tap water is still unsafe for consumption. One resident wrote to state regulators commenting: “Why on Earth would the state of Michigan, given our lack of money to address water matters of our own, like Flint, even consider giving MORE water for little or no cost to a foreign corporation with profits in the billions?” The Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation has also called for further scrutiny of Nestle’s plan, and the company’s claim that increased pumping won’t affect surface waters in the area.
The increased pumping is part of a $36 million expansion of Nestle’s Ice Mountain bottling plant. Putting aside the irony that a federal judge has recently ordered Michigan and Flint officials to deliver bottled water to any Flint homes where the government has been unable to verify that a filter is properly working, let us not forget that bottled water takes its toll on the environment. Plastic water bottles create huge amounts of unnecessary waste, especially when they are not recycled. Bottling water also requires a lot of energy and produces carbon emissions throughout the manufacturing stream.
Taking all this into consideration, it doesn’t make sense for Michigan to allow Nestle to exploit local aquifers for the sake of this project. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has asked for public comment on the proposal, for which they have already issued a draft approval. Act now to tell the state of Michigan it must not allow Nestle to go through with this plan.
Dear Ms. Grether,
I am writing to urge you not to support Nestle’s plan to expand water consumption from its plant in Evart. As I’m sure you’re aware, the company has been facing public backlash over the proposed plans, with Michigan residents angered by the idea of allowing a foreign company to exploit local water sources a mere 120 miles away from Flint, where tap water is still unsafe to drink.
Although Nestle claims that the aquifer can handle it and the expansion will not affect nearby surface waters, this claim must be investigated by third-party experts – a demand that has already been made by Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation. In addition, I believe it makes little sense and defies environmental responsibility to aid a company in expanding bottled water operations (an industry which is costly to the environment in many other ways), especially in an area where access to fresh water is a concern. I urge you to heed the voices of the concerned public on this issue – you must not allow Nestle to expand groundwater pumping in Evart.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Steven Depolo