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Group asks DEQ to slow down approval of water request

bottle of water
Wilson Hui
Flickr / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM
Nestle and other water companies have permits to pump water that will be bottled and sold.

A bottled water company wants to speed up the pace of its business. Nestle is asking the state for permission to pump more water from the Muskegon River watershed.

The company has already started construction to upgrade its water bottling plant in Mecosta County.

Environmental groups are asking the state Department of Environmental Quality to slow down the approval process.

Jeff Ostahowski is with the Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation.

“We’re also asking for public hearings around the state in Evart, Detroit, Flint, Muskegon, Traverse City, and Sault Sainte Marie. We believe this is a statewide issue,” he says.

Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation wants the federal government to keep an eye on the effects of water withdrawals, including the impact on wildlife.

Nelson Switzer is the chief sustainability officer with Nestle Waters. He says the request is supported by science.

“That science, coupled with our commitment to operating only in systems that are sustainable, I hope, certainly gives people the confidence, it certainly gives us the confidence that we can operate there sustainably,” he says.

Nestle Waters wants to increase its withdrawal rate from 250 gallons a minute to 400 gallons a minute. The company has already started construction to upgrade its water bottling plant.

This story has been updated to correct an error in the amount of water Nestle is currently allowed to withdraw.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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