- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 1, 2016

EVART, Mich. (AP) - Food and drink company Nestle is planning to significantly increase the amount of Michigan groundwater it pumps from under the state in conjunction with a $36 million dollar expansion of its Ice Mountain bottling plant.

Nestle Waters North America is asking the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality for permission to increase pumping from 150 gallons-per-minute to 400 gallons-per-minute at one of its production wells north of Evart, MLive (https://bit.ly/2f74a8Z ) reported.

The department issued a draft approval for the request in January. It’s accepting public comment on the proposal until Thursday.

The company and the department said an environmental review shows the aquifer can handle the more than doubled withdrawal and that it won’t hurt the flow, levels or temperature of nearby surface waters.

However a citizens group who fought Nestle over the groundwater wants more examination on the plan.

“It needs to be studied by all the best environmentalists, hydrologists and people acquainted with the science of where this water is actually coming from,” said Jeff Ostahowski, vice president of the Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation.

The group has fought Nestle for years in court to minimize the company’s allowed withdrawal and was not aware of Nestle’s proposal until being contacted by MLive.

The proposal for Nestle claims average water levels in Twin and Chippewa creeks would “decline only minimally” from the increased pumping.

Nestle will need DEQ’s drinking water office approval to max out the withdrawal capacity under the Section 17 of the Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA).

Previously Nestle increased the well’s daily pumping rate in 2015 and also earlier this year.

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Information from: The Grand Rapids Press:MLive.com, https://www.mlive.com

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