576,000 gal of water will be extracted daily
In a controversial decision, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) has agreed to allow Nestlé to extract significant daily sums of water despite significant public dissent. The request made by the company was decided to be legally compliant by MDEQ.
The new arrangement will see 576,000 gal pumped from the White Pine Springs into the Great Lakes Basin daily. The approval comes mired in controversy as the issue achieved a record number of public comments of 81,020, of which almost all were in dissent with 80,945 against and 75 in favor.
Despite the backlash, MDEQ Director C. Heidi Grether believes the approval a positive development for the state.
“It is very clear this permit decision is of great interest to not only the residents in the surrounding counties, but to Michiganders across the state as well,” Grether said. “In full transparency, the majority of the public comments were in opposition of the permit, but most of them related to issues of public policy which are not, and should not be, part of an administrative permit decision.”
The agreement will allow Nestlé to increase the number of gallons pumped per minute from 250 to 400. The company originally filed the request in July 2016. Main concerns raised by negative public comments cited corporate greed, water not being for profit and worries regarding the privatization of water. MDEQ’s decision would always boil down to the legality of the company’s request, however.
This news comes in the midst of many other controversial stories and headaches for the state of Michigan, including the highly visible Flint Water Crisis and many issues of industrial pollution over past years.