Bottled Water Preservative Causes Wastewater Problems

Jan. 5, 2007

A preservative found in the wastewater from Ice Mountain bottled water has been creating problems in treating municipal wastewater discharged into Michigan’s Muskegon River.

Potassium sorbate, a common food industry preservative, found in the wastewater from the Ice Mountain water bottling facility in Stanwood, Mich., has been turning up at the treatment plant in Big Rapids. reported that the chemical is interfering with the plant's ultraviolet disinfection system, bouncing the UV light back toward the lamps and limiting its ability to pass through the water to kill bacteria before being discharged.

Potassium sorbate is an ingredient in the Splash line of flavored waters from Nestle Waters North America, a branch of Switzerland-based Nestle SA.

Ice Mountain spokeswoman Deb Muchmore said the company was working officials in Big Rapids to find a solution.

The problem was discovered in October, when the wastewater plant had a one-week violation of the maximum amount of fecal coliform bacteria released into the river.