The Muskegon Chronicle has this update on the plans of Nestle Waters North America Inc. to expand its bottling operations. Does an ecosystem care where the water that is withdrawn ends up — does it care if the water goes in a bottle of shampoo, a soft drink or a bottle of water?
Nestle, which bottles water in Michigan under the Ice Mountain label, currently bottles about 270 million gallons of spring water annually at its sprawling facility in Stanwood, company officials said. That water comes from underground springs in rural Mecosta County and the city of Evart’s municipal water system.
Nestle is seeking state permission to pump 70 million gallons of spring water annually from the headwaters of two trout streams that flow into the Muskegon River near Evart in Osceola County. If approved, that project would reduce the annual flow of the Muskegon River by 70 million gallons, according to company documents.
Nestle also is considering seeking permission to pump millions of gallons of spring water each month from a site in Newaygo County’s Monroe Township that is the headwaters of the White and Pere Marquette rivers.
Neither the Pere Marquette Watershed Council nor the White River Watershed Partnership has taken a formal position on Nestle’s proposal.
Nestle officials will explain their plans at a Jan. 10 public meeting at the Monroe Township Hall.
Company spokeswoman Deb Muchmore said Nestle wants to develop more water wells so that it can meet increased demand for Ice Mountain spring water without harming nearby surface waters.
Nestle plans to announce in late 2007 where it will build a second water bottling plant. That facility will be built either in Evart, northeast of Big Rapids, or at a site in Indiana, Muchmore said.
Muchmore said the new bottling plant will be the same size as the Stanwood facility, which spans 739,000 square feet, cost $150 million to build and cranks out about a half billion individual bottles of water annually, according to company reports.
Noah Hall, a Wayne State University law professor, said there is no state or federal law that defines whether bottling pure water is any different, legally speaking, than pumping water out of the ground and using it as an ingredient in other beverages or food products.