By Shea Howell
Shortly after Mother’s Day, three Nestle semi-trucks will roll into Flint with free bottled water. Between Mother’s Day and Labor day Nestle will donate 100,000 bottles a week to three service centers where people can pick up the bottled water. The Mayor of Flint has graciously thanked the company for its “willingness to help the people of Flint.”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gCl-3WwkJgg&t=223s As Flint residents are forced to drink, cook with and even bathe in bottled water, while still paying some of the highest water bills in the county for their poisoned water, we turn to a little-known story about the bottled water industry in Michigan. In 2001 and 2002, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality issued permits to Nestlé, the largest water bottling company in the world, to pump up to 400 gallons of water per minute from aquifers that feed Lake Michigan. This sparked a decade-long legal battle between Nestlé and the residents of Mecosta County, Michigan, where Nestlé’s wells are located. One of the most surprising things about this story is that, in Mecosta County, Nestlé is not required to pay anything to extract the water, besides a small permitting fee to the state and the cost of leases to a private landowner. In fact, the company…
By Maksim Kokushkin
…it would rank at the bottom of the world for urban access to clean water. The preface to current crisis was written in 2013 when the Governor-appointed emergency manager authorized Flint’s switch from a safe water source to a less expensive one. In the spring of 2014, the city started drawing water for household consumption from the highly polluted Flint River. According to the Virginia Tech scientists who first exposed the public health crisis in 2015, the levels of lead and other pollutants in the tap water made it unsafe for consumption, even after filtering.