Nestle Waters North American Incorporated has gotten the okay to pump more groundwater for its Ice Mountain brand.
Before, the company was permitted to withdraw 250 gallons a minute from an underground aquifer in Osceola County. Under the new plan, Nestle can increase that amount to 400 gallons per minute.
According to a press release, MDEQ President Heidi Grether said the review was a huge undertaking.
“The scope and detail of the department’s review of the Nestlé permit application represents the most extensive analysis of any water withdrawal in Michigan history,” said C. Heidi Grether, director of MDEQ. “We are hopeful that whether residents agree with the Nestlé permitting decision or not, they will acknowledge and respect the work that MDEQ staff did to thoroughly and conscientiously apply the law in reviewing the permit.”
Nestle now has to prepare a monitoring plan. There is public outrage generated by the fact Nestle gets the groundwater for nothing more than a 200-dollar per year permit.
“In full transparency, the majority of the public comments received 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. We cannot base our decisions on public opinion because our department is required to follow the rule of law when making determinations,” Grether added.
The plan is tied up in the courts.
Osceola Township has appealed an earlier decision that would allow Nestle to build a new pumping station despite it being zoned agricultural.