Residents of a small community in Michigan want to prevent the Swiss giant Nestle from extracting more water from its rivers, which they say are greatly affected.
The company, which began marketing the region’s water at the turn of the century, is planning to build a new pumping station.
It wants to increase its ratio of 950 liters pumped per minute to 1500 liters per minute.
An initiative that may have an impact on local waterways, according to the community of Osceola Township, who believes that Nestlé’s arrival in the region coincides with significant changes to the environment.
“It’s not the same river anymore,” explains Maryann Borden, referring to the Twin Creek River. It has shrunk, is narrower, shallower, and warmer.
The teacher has been living in the community since 1953 and says she saw the effects of Nestlé’s water pumping.
Osceola Township Manager Tim Ladd agrees.
When you look at the ducts, which give indications of historical water levels, there is no need to be a geologist or a hydrologist to see that they are much lower than two years ago or that five years ago.
Tim Ladd, Manager of Osceola Township
Mr. Ladd is well aware that Nestlé’s new plans are of great concern to the public. Many households are already struggling to pay their water bills.
According to a study by researcher Elizabeth Mack of the University of Michigan, 36% of Americans will not be able to pay their water bill in five years.
The exploited area?
According to Peggy Case, president of the Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation Association, residents of Osceola Township growl is justified.
Nestlé has a reputation for going into poor rural communities, to shine in economic benefits that never materialize and to pump as much water as possible until the streams dry up and then they go away.
Peggy Case, President of the Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation Association
Each year, the company extracts 500 million liters of water in the region. To do this, it pays the state of Michigan an annual amount of 200 US dollars (just under 250 Canadian dollars).
A practice that is fairly regular. Several other states allow companies like Coca-Cola or Pepsico to pump the amount of water they want in exchange for similar amounts.
The sale of bottled water is becoming increasingly lucrative in the United States. In 2016, it even exceeded for the first time that of soft drinks, according to Beverage Marketing.
Nestlé defends itself
Through its community activities, Nestle reports revenue of US $ 18 million (about C $ 22 million) to Michigan each year and employs about 50 residents of Osceola Township.
The company also defends itself to affect the health of the rivers by indicating that it is not the only one to influence their level. It recalls that several dams are installed, which can affect the flow of rivers.
Arlene Anderson-Vincent, Resource Manager at Nestlé Waters of North America, says the new pumping station in Osceola Township would have a “very, very low impact on the environment.”
Scientific data confirms his claims. However, this research was funded by the company itself and no other study of impacts on the region exists.
Daryl Web is the lead editor for PR News Globe. Daryl has been working as a freelance journalist for nearly a decade having published stories in many print and digital publications including, The Detroit News and Tuscaloosa News. Daryl is based in Detroit and covers issues affecting his city and his country. When he’s not busy writing, Daryl enjoys skiing and painting..