Michigan gives Ice Mountain green light to take more water

LANSING, MICH.  The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality today announced its decision to grant Nestlé Waters North America, Inc. a permit to increase its groundwater withdrawal for the purpose of bottling drinking water.  

The move will increase the amount of fresh water taken from 250 gallons to 400 gallons per minute from White Pine Springs well located near Evart, Michigan.

MORE: Ice Mountain wants to pull twice as much water from Michigan well

Nestlé now has to prepare a monitoring plan consistent with the requirements of the permit and submit it to MDEQ for consideration and approval.  Once the monitoring plan is in place and baseline data is collected, the increase will take place.

The permit was issued today by the MDEQ after determining the application met the requirements for approval under Section 17 of the Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act, 1976 PA 399. 
The act is required to produce bottled drinking water if the water is from a new or increased large-quantity withdrawal of more than 200,000 gallons of water per day from the waters of the state.

"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.

"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."

That surround Michigan are the largest freshwater source on the planet. It's also a reason that Nestle settled Ice Mountain here.

Nestlé submitted its permit application to MDEQ in July 2016.  A team of technical experts from MDEQ conducted a thorough review of the application and required Nestlé to submit extensive additional information during the more than 20 month review process. The MDEQ also held public meetings, extended the public comment period for a total of 214 days and held several consultations and a technical review with Michigan's Tribal Nations to discuss the application and answer questions from the Tribal Council. 

To view the permit or for more information and background, visit www.michigan.gov/deqnwna.