Tiny Michigan town in water fight with Nestle

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OSCEOLA TOWNSHIP, United States: Global food conglomerate Nestle is in a battle with critics in tiny Osceola Township, Michigan where residents complain the Swiss company’s water extraction techniques are ruining the environment.

Maryann Borden, a retired teacher who has lived in the western Michigan town since 1953, has photos documenting changes in the Twin Creek river since Nestle began pumping water in the region in the early 2000s for its “Ice Mountain” brand of bottled water.

“It’s not the same creek,” Borden, 73, told AFP. “It’s narrower and deeper and therefore warmer,” compared with the “biting cold” water of her youth.

David Huff, chairperson of the zoning and planning commission for Osceola Township, stands before Chippewa Creek, shown flowing through a culvert, on January 11. AFP PHOTO

“The trout can’t survive in it because the water is warmer,” she added.


Located about four hours north of Detroit and with a population of just 900, Osceola Township is a sleepy rural community whose biggest employer is SpringHill Camp, a Christian-oriented program for kids.

The town opposes granting Nestle a permit to build a pumping booster station along a water pipeline that feeds a tanker load dock in Evart, another small town nearby.

The booster station would help the company pump more water from a controversial Osceola County wellhead if the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality approves the project. Nestle wants to pump 400 gallons of water a minute, up from the 250 a minute currently.

Town officials voted in January to appeal a county court’s ruling in Nestle’s favor, portending a judicial saga.

“If you look at the culverts, they provide an historic landmark,” said Tim Ladd, manager of Osceola Township.

“You don’t have to be a geologist or a hydrologist to see those water levels,” he added. “The water lake tables are lower today than what they were two years ago.”

AFP

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