Food giant Nestlé plans to pump water from Michigan has been approved despite a record-breaking number of public comments opposing the proposal. 80,945 citizens were AGAINST the plan, with only 75 comments in favor. Despite the massive public outcry, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality approved Nestlé’s bid to pump 576,000 gallons of water, each day, from White Pine Springs and the Great Lakes Basin.
Nestlé first applied for the new permit in July 2016. Up until now, the company was taking 250 gallons of water per minute from a well and now they have full reign to pump up to 400 gallons of water per minute.
The agency is “unable” to say no, “even if the vast majority of the public wants them to,” said Michigan Radio’s Lindsey Smith on The Environment Report podcast. You mean, tax-paying residents can’t tell the government, that works for them, what they want to see in their state? We beg to differ.
Besides the clear problem that a corporation is able to buy clean water, bottle it and then re-sell it, instead of allowing the taxpaying residents of Michigan to have access to that water, there is another problem here: Flint, Michigan residents still DO NOT have a stable source of clean water.
It’s been FOUR years since government officials decided to switch the city’s water supply from the Detroit city water to water from the Flint River, in a poor attempt to save money. Since then, residents have had to suffer from the lead-poisoned water. An unpublished study recently found fetal deaths in Flint increased by 58 percent during the crisis.
Flint’s water crisis has yet to be solved, with residents still having to go to distribution sites to pick up donated bottled water and water filters. Residents, who are already juggling a crime-ridden city with a money-strapped police force, jobs, kids and other stressors, have to take time out of their days just to pick up something that should flow freely from their taps: water.
And that well that Nestlé was just approved to pump 400 gallons of water a minute from? It’s in Evart, Michigan, which is only two hours away from Flint. Nestlé then bottles the water and sells it across the country for around one dollar. Nestlé pays just a $200 per year administration fee for the natural resource, all while some Flint residents are paying upwards of $200 a month for water that’s not even drinkable.
If you think Nestlé’s attack on the state of Michigan is the first time they stole water from people, think again. For the past 20 years, Nestlé has pumped tens of millions of gallons of pristine spring water from the San Bernardino National Forest during California’s drought, and bottled it as Arrowhead 100 percent Mountain Spring water, using a permit to transmit water from the National Park Services that technically expired in 1988.
There is absolutely no need for Nestlé to take freshwater resources and bottle them for sale when citizens are dealing with a public-health crisis involving the natural resource Nestlé is stealing from them. It’s also important to note that bottled water only continues a cycle of waste, from the water needed to process and bottle products to the creation of MORE plastic bottle waste, it’s an industry nothing short of an ecological disaster.
Please, STOP purchasing plastic water bottles. It is easy to buy a reusable water bottle, allowing you to save money in the long-run and you’ll effectively end your support of Nestlé. Help us raise awareness for this important issue by sharing this article within your network. We hope that the more attention the issue is given, Nestlé will decide to do what is moral and help out the residents of Flint by providing long overdue relief instead of profiting from water bottle sales.
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