FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE April 12, 2017
Contact: Liz Kirkwood, Executive Director Email: Liz@FLOWforWater.org
Cell: (570) 872-4956
FLOW Urges State Denial of Nestlé Corporation’s Water Grab
Public Hearing Is Tonight for Swiss Giant’s Proposal that Threatens Michigan Natural Resources, Flunks Legal Test
TRAVERSE CITY, MI – Based on law and science, the State of Michigan should reject a proposal by Nestlé Corporation to dramatically increase its pumping of hundreds of millions of gallons of groundwater a year in Osceola County, northeast of Big Rapids near Evart, for sale as bottled water under its Ice Mountain brand.
The permit application submitted by the world’s largest bottled water company – which faces a state public hearing tonight in Big Rapids – does not comply with state legal requirements, according to an analysis by FLOW’s environmental attorneys and scientific advisors. And the Swiss company’s technical support documents purporting to show little or no impact on natural resources, including headwaters streams, wetlands, and brook trout populations, are based on faulty assumptions, manipulated models, and insufficient data.
Nestlé Ice Mountain is seeking a state permit to increase its spring water withdrawal from 150 to 400 gallons-per-minute, or as much as 576,000 gallons-per-day, from a well in the headwaters of Chippewa and Twin creeks in Osceola County, threatening public resources in the Muskegon River watershed. Nestlé pays $200 per year in state paperwork fees to operate.
“This proposal falls well short of passing the legal test,” said James Olson, founder of FLOW, a Traverse City-based water law and policy center dedicated to upholding the public’s rights to use and benefit from the Great Lakes and its tributaries. “Nestlé has rigged the numbers to try to justify its contention that it will not damage natural resources. The state must recognize that charade and deny the permit.”
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality will hold a public hearing tonight at Ferris State University on Nestle’s request to expand its groundwater pumping operations. The hearing begins at 7 p.m. at Ferris State University Center at 805 Campus Drive in Big Rapids, and will be preceded from 4-6 p.m. by a state information session.
A review of Nestlé’s support documents by FLOW’s technical advisors found that Nestlé’s:
- Information and evaluation of groundwater, wetlands, springs, and streams is based on an unreliable, manipulated computer model that looks narrowly at the proposed 150 gallons-per-minute pumping level increase, and not the cumulative 400 gallons-per-minute;
- Application fails to rely on observed existing hydrology, soils, environment, and other conditions, in violation of Michigan’s water withdrawal law, which mandates evaluation of existing conditions;
- Consultants failed to collect or use real conditions to compare to its unfounded, computer modeling predictions of no effects;
- Model assumes more water in the natural system than exists, assumes more rain and snowfall gets into groundwater than actually occurs, used only selective monitoring for 2001-2002, and left out monitoring data from 2003 to present because it would show more negative impact to streams, wetlands, and wildlife.
“Our analysis shows there will be significant drops in water levels in wetlands, some of which will dry up for months, if not years, and will be completely altered in function and quality,” Olson said. “There will be significant drops in stream flows and levels, and this will impair aquatic resources and brook trout populations and the overall fishery of the two affected streams.”
Olson said there is no reasonable basis for the Michigan DEQ to make a determination in support of Nestlé’s application, since the state Safe Drinking Water Act requires denial if there is insufficient information. Nestlé’s failure to evaluate the full 400 gallons-per-minute it would be withdrawing fails to comply with the requirement of Michigan’s water withdrawal law. The adverse impacts on water resources violate the standards of the Michigan Environmental Protection Act.
“This is a fatally flawed proposal,” Olson said. “The state has no choice but to deny the application.”
The DEQ will accept written comment until 5 p.m. on April 21. Written comments can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed to: MDEQ, Drinking Water and Municipal Assistance Division, Environmental Health Section, P.O. Box 30421, Lansing, Michigan, 48909-7741.
Nestlé’s application, supporting data and documents are posted on the DEQ website: http://www.michigan.gov/deq/0,4561,7-135-3313-399187–,00.html
To learn more about FLOW’s efforts to challenge the Nestlé permit and protect the Great Lakes and Michigan’s groundwater, visit our website at www.FLOWforWater.org.
Click here to view FLOW’s recent comment on the Nestlé Application.