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The state’s bottled water industry is booming. Should Michigan get a cut of the profits?

A box of Ice Mountain brand water bottles
Steven Depolo
Schroeck says raising taxes on private bottled water companies such as Nestlé could generate much needed revenue for water infrastructure."

Many residents were outraged when the state granted Nestlé a permit to significantly increase the amount of water it pumps out of a well near Evart, Michigan.

More than 80,000 people submitted public comments opposing the decision. The environmental group Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation has since challenged that permit.

As that legal battle plays out, one environmental law expert thinks Michigan should either collect taxes on companies like Nestlé that take significant amounts of water, or raise the annual fees that bottlers pay.

Nicholas Schroeck, assistant professor and the director of the Transnational Environmental Law Clinic at Wayne State University, joined Stateside’s Lester Graham to talk about his recent piece in The Conversation.

Beyond agricultural farming and personal consumption, Schroeck argues that capturing water and then selling it as a product for profit departs from the state’s legal regulation of groundwater. He said that requires a new strategy to manage that increased activity.  

As the state allows companies to “extract water at very high levels, and not [capture] any profit,” Schroeck said he hopes legislators will explore ways to fund water infrastructure and wetlands rehabilitation.

Listen above for the full conversation.

This post was written by Stateside production assistant Gabrielle Horton.

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