by Christina Sarich
Michigan — Nestlé is at it again. Recently publicly condemned for pumping 36 million gallons of water from Strawberry Creek in the San Bernardino National Forest, paying a meager $524 annually for a permit that expired long ago, the multi-national company is now planning to milk the citizens of Flint, Michigan, to keep their water privatization plan afloat.
Nestlé was just given a permit to almost double the groundwater they extract from the Michigan area amidst the recent Flint water crisis. This means the company will be taking more than 210 million gallons annually while many Flint residents are still suffering from the long-term effects of lead exposure.
Nestlé is not even based in the U.S., but the Swiss transnational is taking water from hundreds of local water supplies. The U.S. represents its largest bottled water market. Nestlé also controls more than 70 of the world’s bottled water brands, among them Perrier, San Pellegrino, Ice Mountain, Pure Life, and Vittel.
CEO Peter Brabeck takes his company’s image very seriously, but many have accused him of whitewashing Nestlé’s lack of social and environmental responsibility. The documentary, Bottled Life, explores this lack of humanitarian values more closely. Meanwhile, the company continues to churn out annual profits of CHF 110 billion — 10 percent of which is derived from the bottled water business.
Residents of Michigan are fuming mad over Nestlé Waters North America’s recently approved permit given by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) to increase allowed pumping from 150 to 400 gallons-per-minute at one of its production wells north of Evart.
Flint, Michigan, residents have been paying for poisoned water through the nose, yet Nestlé paid pennies on the dollar for their right to extract Michigan’s groundwater. For just $200 annually the company will privatize water — selling it back to U.S. citizens for an inflated cost, while adding to the plastic bottle pollution in our oceans, for which they pay nothing to help clean up.
The entire deal is being called the ‘rape’ of Michigan’s water supply, and the source is just 120 miles from Flint.
The true reason for the newly anointed permit? Nestlé just made a $36 million capital investment in its Ice Mountain bottling operations in Stanwood, Michigan, which the company announced in late October.
A Twitter and Facebook storm has already begun painting Nestlé as the water-stealing behemoth that it truly is.
“Due to the lack of clean water in Michigan the Michigan High Court must drop / suspend Nestlé’s rights to take Michigan water until the water problem is totally solved,” said user, Ing Hochhaltinger.
“Fuck Nestle,” declared Marc Arthur.
“Do think – since water is being destroyed that the price of water will ‘go up’ as you are checkmated with your life? Think epi-pens – image what they will do with water. Think Michigan disaster,” wrote D. Alderwind Political Messages and Satire.
“Nestles is stealing water from Michigan and other states at our expense and selling it back to you making billions in the process… boycott nestle,” said Rich T Tyra II.
“Another rich corporation stealing from taxpayers…” wrote Cinda Williams Hernandez.
If you’d like to tell Nestlé how you feel, their Facebook page is here.
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