Mecosta, Michigan - The Michigan Court of Appeals released it's ruling on the controversial case of Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation vs. Nestle Waters North America. Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation (MCWC) won protection of a stream system deprived of 24 percent of its water as the result of Nestles pumping and diversion of water for the sale of bottled water. The Court further curtailed Nestle's pumping to 200 gallons per minute pending the decision on remand.
"MCWC is thankful for the Court of Appeal's ruling that upheld Judge Root's finding that Nestle's pumping is unreasonable. It is now undisputed that Nestle has caused and continues to cause harm," said Terry Swier, President of MCWC.
But there is more to do. Despite finding Nestle's pumping unlawful, this Court of Appeals decision weakened long-standing common law riparian and public trust protections of Michigan's streams. The Court also narrowed court access under Michigan's environmental laws and remanded the trial court's decision on violations of these environmental laws for further findings.
MCWC is seriously considering all of its options regarding further appeals, clarifying the appeals' court ruling, or going forward with the limited proceedings that have been sent back to the trial court. The appeal involves critical legal precedents at a time when Michigan faces approval of a Great Lakes Basin-wide agreement, water legislation, and a rapidly increasing global demand for freshwater.
MCWC believes the Court of Appeals erred in fashioning a new rule that allows any use or sale of groundwater so long as the social and economic benefits outweigh the harm to a lake or stream. MCWC believes such a rule favors water exports over the rights of private property owners.
Jim Olson, legal counsel for MCWC stated, "By adopting a broad balancing test, those who want to export Michigan's water have been put on equal footing with the rest of us who depend on our supply of water here, for work and quality of life. This includes farmers, manufactures, golf courses, citizens, and our abundant wildlife," He said. "Michigan's water is a precious public heritage. It should not be subjected to a slippery slope that signals a green light to those who want to convert our water into a private commodity without the consent of our citizens or respect for this water as a legacy for future generations."
MCWC has urged the protection of existing legal principles and the public trust, and the adoption of stronger laws that would prevent private sale, harm, and abuse of the state's water resources. "Citizens need to get involved, now, before it is too late," Rhonda Huff, vice president of MCWC said. "Our government is ignoring or compromising these principles, which will cost us dearly."
"Citizens need to contact their legislators and Governor Granholm and demand stronger protection of Michigan's water resources. Michigan can do better," Swier said.