February 6, 2017
Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation (MCWC) is currently in fact-finding and research mode on the Nestlé permit request of increasing to 400 gallons per minute (gpm) water takings from the White Pine Springs Well 101 in Osceola Township, Osceola County.
The following is our current position:
1) MCWC is requesting several hearings on the Nestlé Permit increases as we believe this is a state-wide issue, and not only a local issue. We are requesting hearings from the DEQ in Evart, Detroit, Flint, Muskegon, Traverse City and Sault Ste. Marie at a minimum. We would welcome additional hearings beyond these but are specifically seeking these.
2) Nestlé is not the only bottled water company in the world, just the largest. The people of the State of Michigan need to determine whether to permit water takings and how to permit them without creating environmental harm. MCWC is against water takings for commercial resale until such time as the laws of Michigan ensure that water takings do no environmental harm, rather than under the current arrangement, whereby environmental harm is first allowed to occur, with compensation and restoration efforts attempted afterwards.
3) MCWC believes there is a serious disconnect in the State of Michigan’s water policy that potentially grants Nestlé a permit for $200 to take more than 200 million gallons of fresh spring water (or less than a dollar for a million gallons), while at the same time permitting thousands of people in Detroit to have their household water disconnected for non-payment for a few thousand gallons of water, and the residents of Flint be subjected to long term contamination of their drinking water through senseless and possibly criminal governmental acts.
4) Michigan water policies are in serious need of updating if Michigan is going to use and conserve its water resources wisely.
5) MCWC believes that serious and significant environmental damage may have already occurred on the upper reaches of both Twin and Chippewa Creeks in Evart.
6) MCWC is calling for a species inventory on both creeks to be conducted by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. This inventory needs to be conducted in the summer months.
7) MCWC is calling for all future monitoring and data collection of the Nestlé Water Takings under the DEQ in Evart to be conducted by the United States Geological Survey.
8) MCWC is calling for an immediate return to the original permit limits of 150 gpm or less at the White Pine Springs Well 101, until such time as the ground water table and the upper reaches of the Chippewa Creek have been restored and contain fresh spring water.
9) MCWC is calling for a review of the flawed permitting process that allowed Nestlé to increase takings from 150 gpm to 250 without comment or hearings and applying the wrong legal framework. We seek the return of the water taken without correct permit by requiring Nestlé to stop pumping anything from PW-101 until the equivalent of the improperly taken water is restored to the aquifer.
10) MCWC is calling for real time electronic monitoring with limit switches and discontinuation of water takings below agreed to levels of the water table at the White Pine Springs well 101. Such a system of real time digital monitoring provides the best way to comply with present law that requires that no environmental damage occur because of the Nestlé water takings.
To achieve the necessary assessments and untangle the legal ramifications of the flawed permitting process, MCWC will move for a further extension of comment beyond March 3 to allow time for the hearings we request and gathering of the data submitted under our FOIA request.