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Group says Nestle drying up creeks but state, Nestle say no evidence for that

Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation

An environmental group says Nestle's water bottling operations in Osceola Township are drying up two creeks.

Peggy Case, President of Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation says there are mud flats along parts of Twin and Chippewa Creeks, where people used to canoe.  She says surveys show that large trout are disappearing from the creeks.

"So at a time when the water is at high levels all over the state of Michigan -- drowning in water right now, rivers are high and lakes are high.  (But) Twin Creek and Chippewa Creek are not. They are quite low."

MCWC is asking Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel to investigate whether Nestle is violating the state constitution and the Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act.

Case says the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) has not come to the area to survey conditions, even though it claims it has.

EGLE officials deny that claim.  In an emailed response, the agency says there is no evidence to support MCWC's claims that Nestle's operations are harming the water levels in the area.

EGLE has investigated numerous complaints based on resident observations and found no credible evidence or actual flow data that demonstrates Nestle is blocking flow to the creek. Certainly changes in the flow to the creek occur, but the cause is not likely related to Nestle’s withdrawals.

Nestle agreed with EGLE, saying its water operations in the area of the creeks are sustainable.

The claims Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation (MCWC) make in their letter to the Attorney General’s office and what they state in their press release are not backed up by any scientific evidence that we have seen. On the contrary, the data and extensive environmental studies conducted by multiple, well-respected governmental agencies and professionally trained scientists in the areas near our operations in Osceola County do not support MCWC’s claims.

Meanwhile, the Michigan Attorney General's office says the complaint filed by the group falls within the statutory authority and expertise of EGLE.

However, in an emailed response, Attorney General Nessel's office says she has expressed concerns in the past with the state’s current regulatory structure governing water withdrawals and believes a thorough review and improvement to that structure is long overdue.

"The Michigan Legislature is the appropriate body to update those regulations, and we call upon lawmakers to take action to prevent private parties from profiting off our shared water resources and better protect those assets."

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Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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