Michigan Township Blocks Nestle From Bottling, Reselling Its Groundwater

A small Michigan township is making a stand against Nestle, temporarily blocking the company from pumping millions of gallons of groundwater for bottled water. Citizens near Evart, Michigan became outraged when Nestlé proposed to build even larger pipelines to increase the flow of water to its plant in Standwood. Global News CA details the local resistance to Nestlé’s proposed expansion to collect even more ground water:

The added capacity provided by the proposed booster pump would make it possible for Nestlé to extract an estimated 1,500 litres of groundwater per minute, representing more than 4.2 million bottles of water in a 24-hour period. That’s equal to 794 million litres of water annually.  

As explained by Global News CA, “the company is currently limited to pumping 945 litres per minute, up significantly from its pre-2015 cap of 565 litres per minute.”

Nelson Switzer, Nestlé Waters’ chief sustainability officer told the Stamford Advocate, “just because we’re putting in the application for 400 [gallons] doesn’t mean it’s going to run at 400 gallons per minute most of the time.  Switzer added, “the fact is we want to make sure that we don’t spike Evart beyond our permitted capacity. So having that capacity permitted is important.”

In the video below, Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation protested last Wednesday outside the Reed City courthouse against Nestlé. Residents of the area have had enough of the multinational corporation extracting the towns resources for less than pennies on the dollar. One of the protestors had a sign that read, “Nestlé destroys our planet one bottle at a time.” One report claims that waters near the Nestlé-owned pump can no longer support fish species.

A much larger issue that no-one seems to be addressing: how does a multinational corporation have virtually free access to the state’s water supply, while citizens in Flint, Michigan face undrinkable lead water? The state’s prioritization seems to be misaligned when it comes to its own taxpayers (especially when the adversary is one of the world's wealthiest multinationals).

In September, Bloomberg estimated Nestlé’s 20-year supply agreement with California’s U.S. Forest Service pays roughly $0.000001 for the water in each bottle: a sweetheart deal considering bottled water has become the most consumed bottled beverage in North America in 2017. Last year alone, Nestlé sales of bottled water reached $7.4 billion, meanwhile the company paid very little to municipalities.

Surprisingly, Nestlé isn’t the only bottled water company to "suck" America dry. As we noted, Pepsi and Coca-Cola bottle municipal water from Detroit for their Aquafina and Dasani brands, respectively; they pay city rates, then sell the product back for a massive profit. Across the United States, fresh water aquifers are plentiful and it could explain why multinational companies are eager to start bottling.

Meanwhile, the Economic Times reports that only 12% of 1.35 billion citizens in China have access to freshwater. Similar problems around the world exist, making access to clean water difficult to come by, and prompting Goldman to publish a report several years ago declaring fresh water as the best long-term investment over the next decade.

But back to Nestle, Global News provides a summary of the latest development in legal municipal battles against the Swiss good giant:

Guelph, Ont., has been in a legal battle with Nestlé for years over the amount of groundwater the company is legally allowed to pull from the local aquifer.


The city and local activist groups have claimed the 3.6 million litres of water Nestlé Canada is allowed to pump per day from its well in Aberfoyle, Ont., under its provincial licence is unsustainable. Activists had claimed the company had increased pumping in recent years, including during a recent summer drought. The company pays just $3.71 per million litres pumped under provincial regulations.


The Ontario government formally imposed a two-year moratorium on new or expanded bottled water companies as of Jan. 1, 2017 after thousands of people expressed support for the ban. The B.C. government instituted new bottling administration fees in 2015 after public criticism over Nestlé’s ability to draw water from the province’s waterways at no cost. 


The company can now take approximately 230 million litres of fresh water every year from an aquifer in the Fraser Valley. They pay $2.25 for every million litres. Oregon’s governor attempted to block a water transfer deal last month that would jeopardize Nestlé’s plan to build a $50-million bottling plant in Cascade Locks, east of Portland.


The deal would allow Nestlé to receive 850 litres of water per minute from a local spring.

The latest bottled water scandal comes just a few months after Poland Spring was accused of "collosale fraud" in Maine, after plaintiffs sued the Swiss megacorp for selling groundwater pretending it was "pure spring water."

Poland Spring is owned by Nestle.

If this latest news is any indication, a trend is forming whereby US and Canadian municipalities are starting to fight back against large multinational companies who are attempting to suck America dry of fresh (ground)water. Whether this will send the price of bottled water even higher remains to be seen.


shitshitshit Thu, 11/23/2017 - 08:49 Permalink

Besides child labour and strange business practices, this company definitely needs to give us a break and stop playing insouciant and innocent victims, like the Dimons of food industry.If you have the opportunity to consult your local labour statistics, check out the difference between burnout and cancer rates in this company compared to the average rates in your country. I'm sure you will find it interesting.But of course these statistics are confidential in most places...

toady shitshitshit Thu, 11/23/2017 - 09:02 Permalink

I know people in the Evart area (I was just there!). For them it's a money issue (.00000000000000001 cents per liter) than anything else. They're sure the local politicians are getting bribes to sign such a sweetheart deal for nestle.... looking like there'll be a new mayor and some new county supervisors soon...And Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends!

In reply to by shitshitshit

Stuck on Zero toady Thu, 11/23/2017 - 09:12 Permalink

Is this diatribe a real beef or an April Fools joke? The amount of water we're talking about is so puny it's literally negligible. Isn't the goal to have people drinking the water. Nestle is providing clean water to the citizens without a dime of taxpayer's money involved. Shouldn't we be screaming that GM executives are breathing air?

In reply to by toady

swmnguy Bes Thu, 11/23/2017 - 10:55 Permalink

True 'dat.  Turns out the scorn for the Oligarchs was all intramural.  If the Oligarch we like gets the upper hand, then everything is fine.  And no doubt the Oligarch will richly reward our slavering loyalty.Feudalism has always been like this.  And the nobility never rewards loyalty at par.  Loyalty is just expected, and consumed.  When the neverending internecine battles among the Oligarchs turn a different way, a different set of partisan loyalists is elevated, then used up and discarded.Best to not get identified too closely to any particular Oligarch, while finding a way to become a trusted procurer to all the Oligarchs.  That way when the wheel turns, you've only lost one client and the other Oligarchs have no interest in taking you down too many notches.As a very young man I got cheap tickets to see a Shakespeare play one night, and the next day while working on a corporate event, I first witnessed a Fortune 500 CEO being ushered through the setup for the event by his team of handlers and sycophants.  The juxtaposition stunned me and changed my life.  I realized in a flash that feudalism had never gone away, but instead of Dukes and Duchesses we now have CEO's and CFO's.  Members of the Board haven't really changed at all.Once I recognized that I haven't really been surprised since.  Macchiavelli was writing for the Medicis in 15th Century Florence Italy, but it's all pretty much the same now.  Macchiavelli's mistake was getting too close to one particular benefactor.  I resolved not to make that specific mistake.And now, as always, the deepest and loudest support for the Oligarchs comes from those at the bottom, the most cruelly exploited.  They daydream their loyalty will be rewarded, but they're happy to settle for just being able to beat up on their nearest rivals on the lowest rung of the social ladder.  Any intelligent feudal lord will allow and even foster that kind of internal strife.  Keeps the mob busy and unobservant as the next phases of extraction kick in.

In reply to by Bes

LibertarianMenace shitshitshit Thu, 11/23/2017 - 17:23 Permalink

"GM used to buy MTAs around the country only to dismantle them." My grandfather could walk down the hill from the farm where he lived, and directly into the trolley station. From there, take your pick: Philly, NYC, Boston, etc., etc., BY RAIL. Driving? That's the engineer's problem. Now, thanks to GM, et al., not at all. "But who am i to think like that..."A conspiracy factist. 

In reply to by shitshitshit

michelp Taint Boil Thu, 11/23/2017 - 10:18 Permalink

"Not really a lot, they're using about 5 - 10 minutes of water that flows over the Niagara."Then they should go and take it from there. Yours is not a valid argument.Taking these large amount from municipality dependent aquifers and limited above-ground sources is putting their long-term potable water suply in jeopardy.m.

In reply to by Taint Boil

Endgame Napoleon Taint Boil Thu, 11/23/2017 - 10:47 Permalink

Absurdities List:

1) Americans with better access to water are paying [billions] per year for “pure” water in bottles, some of which is from Michigan, land of the Flint toxic water.

2) Chinese with less access to water are the possible market for this bottled water, which, since only 12% of them have access to anything drinkable, might be a high-selling product.

3) These bottled water companies are multinationals and, as such, are using low-cost labor abroad, fueling mass underemployment, misery and social
strife in the USA.

4) But some companies express interest in putting some new bottled water plants in various parts of the US, presumably staffed mostly by humans instead of robots.

5) The outcry of the environmentalists begins, with almost none of them dependent on factory jobs for their living.

6) The controversy includes a harsh critique of companies for diverting municiple water for industrial use, thereby depriving citizens like those in Flint of good water.

7) No mention of the fact that Flint’s economic crisis, which was spawned by a mass exodus of factory production, led to the awful water situation and the [horrible] decisions of public officials who were trying to save money due to the crisis.

8) No [direct] reference to the fact that the factory production that made Flint middle class in previous eras also led to the polluted Flint River, where the bad water came from.

9) Humans remind me of pampered working mommas in workplaces, leaving work all the time in their absenteeism gangs, but still hanging on to the jobs due to cronyism: humans want EVERYTHING good with none of the drawbacks that come with anything good.

In reply to by Taint Boil

Justin Case toady Thu, 11/23/2017 - 12:56 Permalink

We live in a corporatocracy that every problem or future problem has a price tag to have it fixed, but it's not fixing anything and the only beneficiaries are the Gov'ts and the corporations. The money should go to the people that are affected, like the town. Build schools, recreation centers, hospitals, parks, roads etc. Improve their living standards. But we seem to believe that if Gov't gets the money Nestle will what? Shut down? The company and Gov't sit down and agree on a solution to shut the people up and continue the partnership of business and Gov't, the beneficiaries of all this.

In reply to by toady

A Likely Story shitshitshit Thu, 11/23/2017 - 09:18 Permalink

Nothing saves lives in a natural disaster or prolonged power outage like bottled water.  Fucking idiots who think turning on the tap is always an option have no concept of preparedness.  And no, hand pumping your well isn't an option for 99% of the world.  Maybe you drink beer?  Then you buy bottled water.  The level of ignorance on this subject would be unbelievable if not for some of the comments below.

In reply to by shitshitshit

Bemused Observer A Likely Story Thu, 11/23/2017 - 10:27 Permalink

Bottled water is great if you have it, and have a place to store it. On the run, with only a car or maybe just a backpack, those bottles are going to take up room, and get pretty heavy. Better to just carry a large pool shock tablet, about the size of a hockey puck, and learn how to sanitize existing water sources. Whatever you can 'glom' from the environment is something you don't have to lug around. Everything you don't have to carry gives you more speed and maneuverability.

In reply to by A Likely Story

Justin Case J S Bach Thu, 11/23/2017 - 11:45 Permalink

People like to make assumptions on things that fit thir opinion. Did anyone here test their tap water? Did anyone ever test their bottled water? House pipes have lead soldered joints for many years. Anyone know the death toll from lead poisoning from the last 60 years?There should be historic data before remedial resolution, but nobody can prove that there is a problem, because there is no data to measure it.Assumptions only no real facts posted here.

In reply to by J S Bach

J S Bach Justin Case Thu, 11/23/2017 - 14:52 Permalink

No one is arguing whether or not some tap water may be more impure than Nestle's bottled version (although that's debatable, too).  What is ridiculous to me is that people pay $2 for a 16-ounce bottle of what is one of the most abundant compound elements on earth.  The liquid is probably not worth more than one zinc cent.

In reply to by Justin Case

Justin Case ThanksIwillHav… Thu, 11/23/2017 - 11:17 Permalink

the poison is called FluorideWhat is the death toll thus far? I need statistics to weigh my decision process. The U.S. Surgeon General, the American Public Health Association, the Royal Commission on the National Health Service, Australian Medical Association, New Zealand Medical Association, Health Canada supports fluoridation, citing a number of international scientific reviews that indicate "there is no link between any adverse health effects and exposure to fluoride in drinking water at levels that are below the maximum acceptable concentration of 1.5 mg/L." The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention listed water fluoridation as one of the ten great public health achievements of the 20th century in the U.S., along with vaccination, family planning, recognition of the dangers of smoking, and other achievements. In Israel, the Israeli Association of Public Health Physicians, the Israel Pediatric Association, and the Israel Dental Association, support fluoridation. The World Health Organization, looking at global public health, identifies fluoride as one of a few chemicals (along with the arsenic and nitrate, and to a lesser extent lead, selenium and uranium) that are found in excessive levels in many parts of the world and cause negative health effects; for fluoride this is especially true in large regions of India, China, Central Africa and South America, and locally in many parts of the world. Only for fluoride does it recommend adjusting the level in places where the chemical is low to reach a threshold; this is because there is clear evidence that low concentrations provide protection against cavities, both in children and in adults. Moar people die from smoking and eatting unhealthy, greasey, devoid of nutrition fast foods, alcohol, narcotics. Do you know anyone that died from floride? I don't. Vaccines are moar deadly.

In reply to by ThanksIwillHav…

SoDamnMad Justin Case Thu, 11/23/2017 - 11:16 Permalink

The bad plastic is polycarbonate due to the bispenol A used in the resin production process.  It is those large 5 gallon blue tint bottles you get from a water supplier. Like in many offices up on a convenient stand.  Most small bottles found in the stores with water, juices and sports drinks are PET and safe (but please don't eat them).

In reply to by Justin Case

otschelnik Thu, 11/23/2017 - 08:48 Permalink

If people really cared about the ecology they would forget all this global warming crap and stop drinking water from PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottles.  The water from the tap (if you're not Flint MI) is absolutely the same water that these companies use.  This is really something that everybody could do which really would help our planet, getting all that plastic out of the rivers and oceans.