February 17, 2016
Nestlé Pumps Millions of Gallons for Free while Flint Residents Pay Highest Fees
in Country for Poisoned Water
Amy Goodman asks tough questions today on Democracy
Now about who pays for water in Michicgan. See Michigan's Water Wars: Nestlé Pumps Millions of Gallons for Free While Flint
Pays for Poisoned Water.
Her guests on the program are residents of Mecosta
County, Michigan, who have engaged in a decade-long legal battle
challenging permits issued to Nestlé, the largest water bottling
company in the world, by the Michigan Department of Environmental
Quality. The permits authorize Nestlé to take water from groundwater
wells drawing on aquifers that feed Lake Michigan.
According to the program, DEQ issued permits in
2001 and 2002 to Nestlé to pump up to 400 gallons of water per
minute (575,886 gallons of water per day) from its wells. Nestlé
is not required to pay any fees to extract water from the Mecosta
County aquifers besides a small permit processing fee and the cost
of leases to a private landowner.
Not only is it receiving the
water for free, Nestlé received $13 million in tax breaks from
the state to locate a water bottling plant in Michigan.
notes that the spokesperson for Nestlé in Michigan is Deborah
Muchmore, the wife of Dennis Muchmore. Until
recently, Dennis Muchmore was Governor Rick Snyder’s chief of staff.
In contrast to the free water received
by Nestlé, residents of Flint, Michigan
pay so the highest fees in the country to use poisoned water
from the Flint water system.
A survey of the 500 largest water systems in the United States,
conducted last year, found that the water
rates in Flint are the highest rates paid in the country. On
average, Flint residents paid about $864 a year
for water service, nearly double the national average and about
times the rates in Detroit. The United Nations recommends that
water and sewer service shouldn't exceed 3% of a household income.
In Flint, the charges totaled about 7%, said Mary Grant, one of
the study's authors. See Flint residents paid America's highest water rates.
The situation in Michigan where Nestlé gets free water from aquifers in the Great
Lakes watershed is similar to the situation in New York where DEC
is issuing permits to take
of water per day with no fees.
Posted by Rachel Treichler on 02/17/16, updated 04/29/16.