Monday, February 05, 2007

Nestle: Citizen Groups Respond to DEQ Decision

The DEQ approved Nestlé’s "request for determination", pumping 70 million gallons of spring water yearly from Twin and Chippewa creeks in Osceola County near Evart would not have an adverse impact. This came after only a 3-week public comment period after the DEQ and Nestle went public with the proposed decision on Christmas Eve.

Although the DEQ announced the public comment period would be extended until March 15, 2007, this week’s DEQ decision ignored the extended comment period. Apparently Nestle refused to waive the deadline for the DEQ’s decision as required by last year’s amendments to Michigan’s water laws. Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation - leading the fight against Nestle - relied on the extended time period and retained experts to provide meaningful analyses, only to be stabbed by the DEQ’s premature decision.

The DEQ largely ignored comments, particularly those related to the effects on flows and levels of the headwaters of the two trout streams. Nestle and DEQ’s decision used selected measurements of the stream which may have missed the primary area of effects and adverse impacts to a bountiful brook trout fishery.

Nestle claims that it is a "good corporate citizen.” Despite the company’s claims to the contrary, a trial court and the Court of Appeals found pumping caused substantial harm to the stream and wetlands in Mecosta County, and the company recently mounted an attack on the heart of Michigan environmental laws to block citizens’ rights to maintain lawsuits to prevent such harm from happening.

“Now Nestle apparently has refused to cooperate with the DEQ’s extension of time for public comment on the effects of its pumping on two blue ribbon trout streams,” says Terry Swier, President of Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation.

Dave Dempsey, Great Lakes Policy Advisor for Clean Water Action, said, “The legislature failed last year when it passed a new water law that allows water to be commercially exploited. This decision shows Michigan's new water law is a failure.”

Jim Olson, legal counsel for MCWC, said, “These type of private water exports that diminish our lakes and streams, whether in ships, trucks, or bottles, should not permitted to continue. If the citizens of Michigan do not keep strict control on who, when, where and for what purpose someone is allowed to export our water for private gain, we will find ourselves in dire straits when the global tidal wave of demand for water comes crashing on our shores.”

Nestlé has also been investigating a new “spring” water source near the White River in Newaygo County for the past three years. Nestle wants to truck the water from the Osceola and Newaygo sites about 20 miles to its Ice Mountain plant in Stanwood.


Tom Chandler said...

Nestle is leveraging some pretty sleazy tactics in the tiny northern California town of McCloud in an attempt to tap their water supply.

At one point, they even tried to subpeona the private financial records of opponents in a clear attempt to intimidate any potential opposition.

These aren't isolated incidents; Nestle is NOT a good corporate citizen.

Instead, they're like something from a bad movie; the amoral corporation bent on profit above all else - even the human health and welfare.

Jerome Alicki said...

Thanks Tom for the info. It is important to note that Nestle is international and that the same tactics being used here in Michigan and California are also being used in South America.

Since we haven't been able to stop Nestle with the courts - only slow them down a bit- we have to stop them in the court of public opinion. Blog Blog BLOG! We may not have the backing of the legal system, but we can get the backing of the blogger community and through them the larger national and international environmental organizations.

Boycott bottled water unless absolutely necessary.

Delp said...

Part of what is missing in this debate is the role of Trout Unlimited .I'm not sure they have gone very far in helping to stop Nestle. I'd like to see further disclosure of the "inside" of this calculated theft of water.