The U.S. state of Michigan has approved a plan developed by Nestle to increase the amount of water it extracts from the state. The move, which will result in 576,000 gallons of water being pumped each day from the White Pine Springs in the Great Lakes Basin, comes despite overwhelming public outcry against it.
Public comments related to Nestle's plan amassed 80,945 people expressing opposition to it compared to just 75 who were in favor. Despite so much clamor against increased water extraction, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, or MDEQ, concluded that the company's plan adhered to legal standards.
The new plan allows Nestle to increase water pumping from 250 gallons per minute to 400 gallons. “It is very clear this permit decision is of great interest to not only residents in the surrounding counties, but to Michiganders across the state as well," MDEQ Director C. Heidi Grether said.
She addressed public opposition to Nestle's plan, saying, “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."
Lindsey Smith of Michigan Radio blasted Nestle and Michigan authorities on The Environment Report podcast. "The interesting thing to me was the top three themes, by far, are: one, corporate greed versus people and the environment; two, water is not for profit; and three, worries about privatizing water."
Matt Gamble told Smith that the people “can't just say no” to Nestle's plans “for reasons that aren't attached to the law.”