Nestle told to review pumping impact on Mich. wetlands

Associated Press

Lansing — Michigan environmental regulators have told a bottled water company to re-evaluate how its proposal to withdraw 210 million gallons of water annually from the state would impact local wetlands, streams and natural springs.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality requested more information from Nestle Waters North America in June about groundwater replenishment around the company’s White Pine Springs well northwest of Evart, MLive reported .

The “information, analysis, data and explanation provided does not yet provide the department with a reasonable basis to make the determination” whether Nestle’s proposal meets the state’s legal requirements, according to a letter from the department.

Arlene Anderson-Vincent, Natural Resource Manager at Nestle Waters North America, responded in a statement that the company has been doing studies on groundwater monitoring and ecosystems around the well for 17 years and "we respect the MDEQ's committment to get it right."

"We are confident the requested information we will provide the MDEQ will show that our application for additional water withdrawal at White Pine Springs is sustainable and meets all the applicable groundwater withdrawal requirements under Michigan law," Anderson-Vincent said. "Throughout this process, Ice Mountain has made every effort to be transparent in our operations and communications, and we will continue to do so."

This is the second time the department has sought more information about Nestle’s proposal to increase the pumping rate on the well from 250 to 400 gallons-per-minute. The application has been stalled since October after Nestle was found planning to extract more groundwater in conjunction with a $36 million expansion of its bottling plant in Stanwood.

Richard Benzie, Drinking Water and Municipal Assistance Division director, said the department is asking Nestle to recalibrate their model showing how the groundwater affects wetlands in the area.

“Reluctantly, they are agreeing to do it, but I think they said it was not easy and it couldn’t be done with until the end of August,” Benzie said.

The department is reviewing the company’s application under the Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act, a regulation for the state’s water bottlers that was developed in response to environmental concerns from Nestle’s original Sanctuary Springs well. The act is connected to the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, which states that groundwater pumping must have no negative impact.