Nestle is facing a backlash in Michigan over its plans to massively expand the amount of groundwater it pumps from the state—and pay less than $1 per million gallons. The company wants to more than double what it pumps from its plant in Evart to 210 million gallons a year, which will cost it just $200 per year because state law considers the plant to be a private well, the Guardian reports. Angry residents have written to state regulators complaining about the plan to expand operations at the plant, which is 120 miles from Flint, where tap water is still unsafe to drink. Nestle argues that the aquifer can handle the increased withdrawal and that the $36 million project will create 20 jobs.
MLive.com reports that the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality issued a draft approval for the request and has been asking for public comment. "Why on Earth would the state of Michigan, given our lack of money to address water matters of our own, like Flint, even consider giving MORE water for little or no cost to a foreign corporation with annual profits in the billions?" an Ada resident wrote to regulators. Other critics, including the Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation group, say they want outside experts to look at Nestle's claim that the increased pumping won't affect surface waters in the area. (In California, Nestle bottled water during a drought with a long-expired permit.)