The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) granted Nestlé Waters North America, Inc. (Nestlé) a permit to increase its groundwater withdrawal for the purpose of bottling drinking water, according to a MDEQ statement on April 2.
Nestlé is authorized to begin withdrawing water at a rate up to 400 gallons per minute from the White Pine Springs well located near Evart, Michigan. Withdrawal may begin once the monitoring plan is in place and the baseline data is collected.
The MDEQ determined that the application met the requirements for approval under the Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act.
However, more than 80,000 people have said they oppose the proposal, while only 75 people said they are in favor of it.
As Nestlé works to extract more clean water resources, residents in Michigan cities, most notably Flint, struggle to find what they believe to be affordable, safe water.
“The scope and detail of the department’s review of the Nestlé permit application represents the most extensive analysis of any water withdrawal in Michigan history,” C. Heidi Grether, director of MDEQ, said in the statement.
Nestlé met the requirements to produce bottled drinking water if the water is from a new or increased large quantity withdrawal of more than 200,000 gallons of water per day from the waters of the state under the Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act.
“We have made a long-term investment in Michigan, and we take great care to operate in a responsible and sustainable way to preserve and protect our shared water resources and the surrounding environment for generations to come,” the statement said.
Nestlé has to prepare a monitoring plan consistent with the requirements of the permit and submit it to MDEQ for consideration and approval.
“In full transparency, the majority of the public comments received 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,” Grether added in the statement.