The Granholm Administration issued a series of water use permits to the City of Evart and Nestle Waters allowing Nestle Waters to purchase water from the City of Evart, much as other beverage and bottled water producers do in other Michigan cities. However, in an unprecedented move, the Governor imposed a condition on those permits requiring Nestle's Ice Mountain bottled water products to be distributed to customers only within the boundaries of the Great Lakes Basin. According to Nestle Waters, this puts the bottled water industry in Michigan at an unfair disadvantage to all other beverage producers in and out of state.
Governor Granholm also announced a moratorium on Michigan's bottled water industry, saying that no water use permits would be granted to bottled water beverage companies seeking to expand or site new facilities in the state.
Nestle Waters feels that these measures not only raise serious concerns for all Michigan water users, they trample the rights of Michigan's municipal water departments.
Kim Jeffery, president and chief executive officer of Nestle Waters North America, parent company of Michigan-based Ice Mountain Spring Water Company stated that the Governor's decisions severely restrict the ability of Michigan's bottled water industry to grow, compete in the marketplace and contribute to the economic well-being of the communities in which they operate.
"Bottled water companies, as a group, use a miniscule amount of Michigan's groundwater - 0.06% (6/100 of 1%). Limiting the growth of this healthy, clean industry that provides healthful products is a disservice to the hundreds of bottled water employees in the state and the millions of bottled water consumers," Jeffery said. "The decision to dictate conditions on the sale of bottled water and place a moratorium on any future water use also sidesteps the real issue regarding meaningful public policy for water resource protection. It discriminates against a single industry that practices sound environmental management practices and places good Michigan companies at a competitive disadvantage and jeopardizes both existing and potential jobs and investment for the state. Other economic benefits associated with this industry, namely tax revenues for schools and local services, and community giving are also potentially sent elsewhere."
Jeffrey added that Nestle Waters is currently evaluating the implications the condition may have for its business. It is also exploring legal options available to remedy this untenable situation and protect the Ice Mountain business and employees in Michigan and its wholesale and retail customers in the Midwest.
"Nestle Waters agrees that Michigan's water use laws are not strong enough. We have actively participated in a process to improve those laws, which would protect the resource and bring certainty to our business and every other Michigan manufacturer, municipality and resident that uses water," Jeffrey said. "For Michigan, whose major economic advantage over other states is its water resources to choose winners and losers of water use will lead down a path of negligence in resource protection. Whether you're talking about golf courses, farmers, manufacturers, beverage makers, electricity producers or water bottlers: the fact is the water is being used. We would hope Michigan lawmakers take action to ensure water use policy is aimed at resource protection that is fairly applied to all users and based on scientific principles."