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Judge decides Nestlé can pump more water; the state will review the permit

bottle of water
Wilson Hui
Flickr / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy will have the final say on an increase in water withdrawals by a Nestlé water bottling plant.

An administrative law judge decided the state’s decision to grant a permit to Nestlé to withdraw more water was proper.

The permit increased the amount of water that could be withdrawn from a well in Osceola County.  It allows up to 400 gallons per minute increased from 250 gallons per minute.

Peggy Case is with a group that fought the permit for Nestlé, the Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation.

“We’re not pleased with the decision, we think there's a number of places in there where they did not interpret the law in the same way we thought it should be interpreted,” Case said.

But, Case says her group still could argue that the state should deny the permit.

“It isn't a final decision. It's a proposal we have the right to file exceptions to it. We haven't decided yet what we're going to do with that.”

The state’s environment department will review the judge’s recommendation and then make a final determination.

The permit was issued during Governor Rick Snyder’s administration. It’s not clear if Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s administration will agree to the increase when it makes  its final determination.

Nestlé says it’s pleased with the judge’s recommendation. Other legal obstacles are keeping it from increasing water withdrawals from the well at the moment. The company wants to build an additional pumping station. The local township blocked that in court because it was a violation of the zoning code.

In an email, a Nestlé spokesperson said its “next steps have not been determined.”

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Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Public from 1998-2010.
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