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Issues Of The Environment: Ann Arbor Student Petitions DEQ To Limit Nestle’s In Michigan

Sep 27, 2017

Bottled Water
Credit Steven DePolo / flickr.com

In this week's "Issues of the Environment," WEMU's David Fair talks to Ann Arbor 9th grader Yousef Emara, who took an environmental school project a step further by petitioning the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to limit Nestle's water-pumping activities in Michigan.


Overview

   ·  Yousef Emara, now a 9th grade, 14-year old student at Greenhills School in Ann Arbor, started a petition in May as part of an 8th grade project with classmate, Nathan Koh.  The goal was 10,000 signatures asking the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to limit Nestle's water-pumping practices in Osceola County.

   ·  Over the summer, Yousef continued to promote the petition and obtained, and turned in, 53,000 signatures.

   ·  According to mLive, “Bottled water is the leading growth category in the domestic beverage market, with a U.S. per capita consumption average of 36.7 gallons per person last year, according to the trade group.  The market potential led Nestle to Michigan, where the company owns wells that tap underground springs that feed iconic Michigan rivers.  Michigan law allows any private property owner to withdraw from the aquifer under their property for free, subject only to a nominal $200 annual paperwork fee.  The interstate Great Lakes Compact prohibits water diversions outside of the Great Lakes basin, but a bottling exemption within the law allows water to be sold outside the region if it's shipped in bottles smaller than 5.7 gallons.”

·  In June, for the second time, the the DEQ has sought more information about the proposal to raise the pumping rate on the well from 250 to 400 gallons-per-minute.  The controversial application has been stalled since October, when MLive reported the company was planning to extract more groundwater in conjunction with a $36 million expansion of its Ice Mountain brand bottling plant in Stanwood

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— David Fair is the WEMU News Director and host of Morning Edition on WEMU.  You can contact David at 734.487.3363, on twitter @DavidFairWEMU, or email him at dfair@emich.edu