If there is one company in the world which illustrates both unbridled corporate greed and a complete lack of human compassion, it is Nestlé. They have gone all over the world appropriating public water resources for themselves in order to make profits to benefit their rich shareholders. Nestlé has even publicly stated their position that water is not a human right, which is absurd, because without water people die. Water is life, and Nestlé’s position is like saying people have no right to live.
One of their ongoing legal battles over water has been taking place in the state of Michigan, which is surrounded by the Great Lakes — the world’s largest supply of fresh water.
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) just approved Nestlé’s request to pump 576,000 gallons of water daily from the White Pine Springs well in the Great Lakes Basin. This represents a 60% increase in the amount of water the company is taking from public resources to convert to corporate profits.
What is remarkable is how strongly this move was opposed by the citizens of Michigan. MDEQ opened the process to public comment and there was a record number of comments made with 80,945 against and 75 in favor of allowing the global water giant to increase its water pumping.
Despite this astounding level of opposition on the part of the public, MDEQ still reached the conclusion that Nestlé’s plan was in accordance with legal standards and the requirements of Michigan law.
“It is very clear this permit decision is of great interest to not only residents in the surrounding counties, but to Michiganders across the state as well,” MDEQ Director C. Heidi Grether said in approving the permit.
“In full transparency, the majority of the public comments were in opposition of the permit,” Grether added, “but most of them related to issues of public policy which are not, and should not be, part of an administrative permit decision.”
The Michigan state agency was required to make its determination on the legal merits of Nestlé’s request. They had no choice but to follow the statues and regulations of the state.
“And that’s the end of it,” the agency’s source water supervisor, Matt Gamble said. “We don’t have the power to say no arbitrarily. We can’t just say no for reasons that aren’t attached to the law, even if the vast majority of the public wants us to.”
Water is a sore subject in Michigan because of the water crisis in Flint where high levels of lead and other dangerous heavy metals in the water in that Michigan city.
Nestlé’s plan to increase how much fresh water it takes from the Great Lakes State has brought more attention to the debate over whether water is a commodity, a commercial product — or a human right.
With legislatures corrupt and bought out by greedy corporations the people have to take matters into their own hands if anything is to be done about corporations taking public resources to make private profits.