Ice Mountain Requesting an Increase in Groundwater Supply
Living in Michigan has traditionally meant you are used to being surrounded by fresh water streams and lakes. We almost take it for granted compared to much of the United States being surrounded by the Great Lakes and over 60,000 inland lakes. Being residents of Michigan, we have great pride in our quality water and have a responsibility to take care of the water supply. News stories about Michigan’s water supply have recently centered around the Flint water crisis and people have been put on high alert when they hear about the state’s water in the news. Nestlé Waters North America, in Evart, MI, is requesting to increase the amount of water they extract out of Michigan’s groundwater. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, at the request of Nestlé Waters North America, increased their water pumping from 250 gallons per minute to 400 gallons per minute. That is an increase of over 60% and is too much to ask of Michigan’s groundwater reserves.
The Effects of Groundwater Depletion
Some of the potential problems of over-pumping groundwater for commercial profits can turn into more problems and controversies for the state of Michigan. People who live in rural areas have wells that tap into the groundwater and could see an effect on their water quality. If too much water is pumped out, the quality of the water can be negatively affected.
Some of the negative side effects of a depleted groundwater reserve are:
- Lowered groundwater quality
- The water table being lowered
- Lower water levels in area lakes and river systems
- Dry wells for rural families
Profits for Bottled Water Come at a Big Cost
Ice Mountain’s proposed increase in water extraction could have a large impact on the surrounding natural landscapes and families. According to current Michigan water right laws, each case and its facts must be considered. A key principle to current water rights is reasonable use, and determining that is a murky topic for Michigan courts. How a particular action may have an effect on the water supply and if the actions will have negative or damaging consequences for others are factors that are accounted for when determining reasonable use. The amount of water, its quality, and condition of the natural surroundings in effect is paramount in determining what is and is not reasonable use.
For a company to ask so much from its local natural resources is too much of a burden on the residents. Profits now are not worth the negative impacts that depleting our water supply would have on us and future generations. Water quality and supply for everyone needs to be considered by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality when resolving a request from Nestlé Waters North America of this magnitude.