STANWOOD, Mich. - Nestle Waters North America wants to double the amount of water they take for bottling from the Great Lakes basin, but conservation groups are doubling their efforts to fight it.
Nestle announced their plans and filed a permit to increase the amount of water they pump from 250 gallons-per-minute to 400 gallons from a well in Osceola Co. back in October 2016.
The plan also includes a $36 million expansion of their Ice Mountain Fresh Spring Water plant, including a new 80,000 square foot facility, two new bottling lines and 20 more jobs at their facility in Mecosta County.
Tuesday, frustrated members of Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation pushed for citizen involvement at a press conference just outside the facility's property, telling FOX 17 News their main issue is with water policy and the privatization of taking water at a fraction of the cost of what a household would normally pay.
"Nestle corporation has already taken more than 4 billion gallons of water from the Evart area," said Peggy Case, President of MCWC. "The DEQ will permit the Nestle corporation to take 400 gallons a minute from one well, every minute for every hour of every day... If granted, it will only cost Nestle Corp. a $200 fee."
Dozens of people rallied alongside Case Tuesday down the street from the plant, showing opposition to Nestle with signs and chants.
They're now requesting the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality hold public hearings in multiple locations around the state. Their goal is to put Nestle's permit on hold while getting the word out before their public comment period ends March 3.
"This is an opportunity for the public to participate in the committee process which is part of our law," said Jeff Ostahowski, Vice President of MCWC.
Ostahowski says the group is very concerned about the environmental impact of the change. However, Nelson Switzer, Vice President and Sustainability Officer for Nestle Waters North America says there's nothing to worry about.
"The fact that we have been operating here for over 15 years, I think is a testament to our commitment to sustainable water resource management, water stewardship, commitment to the community, and commitment to continued economic development for this region," Switzer said.
Nestle' says regardless of whether the permit goes through or not, there are going to be 20 new family wage jobs for those in the community.
As for the public hearings, the DEQ has issued a meeting in Big Rapids, however no date or time has been set.
For more information on the MCWC's action request for multiple hearings in Evart, Detroit, Flint, Muskegon, Traverse City and Sault Ste. Marie, email:
Heidi Grether, DEQ Director at GretherH@Michigan.gov
Governor Snyder at Rick.Snyder@Michigan.gov