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Michigan denies challenge to Nestle water bottling permit, calls for new royalty fees

Nestle's Ice Mountain water bottling plant near Stanwood can continue operating at its current...
Nestle's Ice Mountain water bottling plant near Stanwood can continue operating at its current capacity after Michigan regulators denied a challenge to the permit.(WILX)
Published: Nov. 20, 2020 at 1:19 PM EST
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OSCEOLA COUNTY, Mich. (WJRT) - State regulators denied a challenge of the permit allowing Nestle to bottle large quantities of groundwater near Stanwood, but they called for a new fee structure.

Nestle received a state permit in 2018 to increase groundwater withdrawals to feed its water bottling plant in Osceola County.

The Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation and the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians challenged the state permit under the Safe Drinking Water Act. However, Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy announced Friday that their challenge has been denied.

That means Nestle will be allowed to continue pumping groundwater from the area at their current capacity with monitoring and safeguards in place.

State regulators say the permit challenge should have been filed in court rather than with the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy

“EGLE remains committed to protecting our state’s valuable water resources, but as a regulatory agency we must act within our statutory authority,” said Director Liesl Clark. “The Safe Drinking Water Act only allows EGLE to hold contested case hearings under very limited circumstances, which are not present in this case.”

She noted that many of the comments sent to state regulators expressed concern that Nestle is not required to pay any royalties for the groundwater it bottles and sells. Clark said Michigan law includes no provision for the state to charge a fee for the water.

Clark said the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy would welcome new state legislation that would allow Michigan to charge royalty fees for commercial use of the state’s water resources.

“EGLE supports the calls from lawmakers to take action to prevent private parties from profiting off our state’s water resources,” she said.

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