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A federal court this week dismissed a lawsuit filed by three American Indian tribes against The Perrier Group of America (Great Spring Waters of America) and Michigan Governor John Engler, saying that the tribes did not have the right to sue under provisions of the U.S. Water Resources Development Act (WRDA).
The court concluded that in passing WRDA, Congress intended to vest authority for management and protection of the Great Lakes waters with state governments, not with private groups or individuals.
The lawsuit alleged that the water bottling operation, which is located near Big Rapids and utilizes groundwater, would somehow impair the tribes' fishing rights on the Great Lakes. Extensive hydrogeologic and environmental assessments of the spring water source and the surrounding area have shown, however, that the company's withdrawals will not have any adverse impact on local water resources, natural wildlife habitats or neighboring water users. Even the hydrogeologic consultant hired by an activist group opposing the project has stated that the project will not cause any measurable effect on nearby inland lakes, let alone the Great Lakes.
"We are pleased with the judge's ruling that the Congressional intent through WRDA was to give state governments the authority for protecting our natural resources and representing the best long-term interests of the citizens," said Michael Haines of the Grand Rapids law firm of Mika Meyers Beckett & Jones, which represents The Perrier Group.