Nestle will be able to increase the amount of water it can take from a well in West Michigan. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality approved the petition Monday.
The company petitioned the MDEQ to increase its water extraction from 250 gallons per minute to 400 gallons per minute. Nestle sells the water under its bottled water brand Ice Mountain. Nestle now has to submit a monitoring plan to the department for approval before it can increase its water extraction.
The request caused a public outcry. Tens of thousands of people submitted comments to state regulators against the proposal. Environmentalists are concerned the permit will harm nearby rivers and streams. But there’s also a matter of fairness, they say.
Nicholas Occhipinti is the government affairs director for the Michigan League of Conservation Voters.
“Folks are struggling to get clean water in Detroit and Flint and having a lot of issues with PFAS contamination,” he said. “It’s just a hard, hard road blow to take for Michiganders to see water pumped out of the watershed for other states.”
The Department of Environmental Quality recognized the outcry. But it said it cannot base its decision on public opinion. It could only follow the rule of law when making decisions – and Nestle met the requirements under the Safe Drinking Water Act.