Saturday, April 14, 2018



As Flint residents are forced to drink, cook with and even bathe in bottled water, while still paying some of the highest water bills in the country for their poisoned water, we turn to a little-known story about the bottled water industry in Michigan. 

In 2001 and 2002, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality issued permits to Nestlé, the largest water bottling company in the world, to pump up to 400 gallons of water per minute from aquifers that feed Lake Michigan. This sparked a decade-long legal battle between Nestlé and the residents of Mecosta County, Michigan, where Nestlé's wells are located. 

One of the most surprising things about this story is that, in Mecosta County, Nestlé is not required to pay anything to extract the water, besides a small permitting fee to the state and the cost of leases to a private landowner. In fact, the company received $13 million in tax breaks from the state to locate the plant in Michigan. 

The spokesperson for Nestlé in Michigan is Deborah Muchmore. She's the wife of Dennis Muchmore -Governor Rick Snyder's chief of staff, who just retired and registered to be a lobbyist.

AMY GOODMAN: I'm Amy Goodman. This is Democracy Now! We're here in Stanwood, Michigan. It's about three hours north of Detroit. And it's here that Nestlé has its Ice Mountain bottled water plant. We're joined right now by Peggy Case. She is the current president of Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation. Can you talk about this plant, Peggy?

AMY GOODMAN: Peggy Case, can you explain what was the water, the body of water they were drawing from?
PEGGY CASE: So the water that Nestlé is bottling here and elsewhere in our state is coming from the Great Lakes Basin. It is feeding here into Dead Stream and Cold Creek, then into the Little Muskegon River, that aquifer, and then eventually, ultimately, into Lake Michigan. So, it's Great Lakes Basin water. It's part of the commons. It belongs to all of us. And part of the reason that people in Mecosta were pretty upset about it is that the extraction of that water was being - it was being taken out of the watershed. It was being - the streams were being pumped down, to the point where the Dead Stream looked like a mudhole at one point, and bottled and shipped all over the world.
AMY GOODMAN: How is it possible that Nestlé, which is making an enormous profit on this water, doesn't actually have to pay for the water it's drawing?
PEGGY CASE: They're drawing the water from a well on private land, for one thing. It would be no different if they came to my house, where I have a well, and asked to use my well to put water in a truck and cart it away. And if I said yes, they have the right to do that.
AMY GOODMAN: But this massive public resource, water - we're not talking about feeding a family of four or five; we're talking about 400 gallons per minute, around the day, around the month, around the year.
PEGGY CASE: Right. It's criminal.

Watch more from the Democracy Now! special report "Thirsty for Democracy: The Poisoning of an American City"
What Did GM & the Governor Know? GM Stopped Using Flint Water Over a Year Before Emergency Declared
Meet the Flint Official Whose Bid to Restore Safe Drinking Water Was Blocked by an Unelected Manager
How Citizens, Journalists, Doctors & Scientists Exposed the Flint Water Crisis Cover-up

Excerpt. See the full report at -

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