Plan to Increase Water Sourcing at Osceola Township
What is NWNA asking for in Michigan?
We have applied to the state for an increase in water production from a source we operate in Osceola Township. It's called the White Pine Springs well, and it has been operating sustainably since 2009.
How can taking 400 gallons of water per minute out of the ground be sustainable?
We have carefully and extensively studied the well and its surrounding environment. Taking a conservative approach, we have incrementally increased the amount of water we draw, while continuing environmental monitoring around the site. As part of our due diligence, nearly 100 monitoring points are installed throughout the area that are used to collect data on the local hydrology. We have collected environmental data at the site for over 16 years, including groundwater levels, precipitation data, surface water levels and flows, temperature data and water quality data. In addition to the hydrologic data we monitor wetland and aquatic communities. Conditions at Osceola Township are ideal for supplying water, due to its abundance, high precipitation rates and the ability of geologic conditions to replenish groundwater supplies. The area is water plentiful, as evidenced by the many wetlands, marshes, swamps and streams that span the area and are part of the Muskegon River's broader watershed.
Your operations are only 120 miles from Flint, Michigan. How can you justify taking more water out of the ground when the community in Flint is still in need?
Nestlé Waters North America shares ongoing concerns about the health and safety of the people of the community of Flint, Michigan. We have never drawn water from the local watershed on which Flint relies. We withdraw water from four groundwater sources located within the Muskegon River watershed. In January 2016, Nestlé Waters joined Walmart, Coca-Cola, and PepsiCo to support the Flint community through donations, education and online services. Together, we donated enough water to meet the daily needs of over 10,000 schoolchildren for the balance of the calendar year. That translates to 176 truckloads, or up to 6.5 million bottles of water, to help with relief efforts for those affected by the water crisis in Flint.
Was NWNA trying to hide this permit proposal from the public?
Not at all. NWNA publicly discussed the permit application for over a year with many local stakeholders, including civic leaders and Non-Governmental Organizations such as Trout Unlimited and the Muskegon River Watershed Assembly. Moreover, the proposed increase was vetted through the State of Michigan's "Water Withdrawal Assessment Tool," through a "Site Specific Review" process, which reached a "No Adverse Resource Impact" determination with respect to area water resources. The permit application was available online for public comment for 42 days before any objections were raised.
Why should the local community trust NWNA to operate sustainably at this location?
NWNA and the Ice Mountain team have demonstrated a strong commitment to the local community over the past 15 years. Community members who work with us – whether they are local governments, local state regulators, or local conservation groups or businesses – have seen for more than a decade that NWNA supports a tremendous amount of work to help keep the watershed and the community healthy.
How much does Nestlé Waters North America pay for water? How does that compare with others?
We have multiple diverse water sources in Michigan and we always pay the required rates and fees set by each appropriate authority. These rates are public record. In Evart, we pay the City of Evart because we are a customer of the City. The rate we pay the City of Evart is currently $2.37 per 1000 gallons. We do not pay a rate at sites where we own the property (such as White Pine Spring and the Mecosta Plant Wells) or have subsurface rights (i.e., Sanctuary). Rather, we pay the expenses associated with withdrawing water on our own property. This means that we bear the cost to drill, construct, operate and maintain the well. This applies equally to all Michigan water users, no matter if they are in industry, agriculture or beverages. Data from Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality shows that bottled water accounted for only 0.3 % of groundwater used in the state in 2015. Agricultural irrigation, on the other hand, accounted for 45% of the state’s groundwater use last year, while 50% of groundwater was used for public supplies.
What are you doing to benefit the community?
We support local economies where we operate through our strong tax base, local job creation inside and outside our factories, as well as supporting many important contracted jobs in the local area. We currently have some 50 employees who work in the surrounding area and we employ local contractors, such as landscaping, excavating, and truck drivers to name a few.
We also are very proud of our strong community engagement programs where we give back to the communities we live, work and operate in. This includes efforts such as financial support for programs and events and bottled water donations for first responders. We are particularly proud of our support for watershed stewardship – from river and road clean ups to recycling programs, to much larger watershed initiatives.
Should water users pay for water?
Wherever we operate, we always do so in accordance with local regulations and the conditions of water licenses provided by local authorities, including the price for sourcing water. We support balanced water pricing schemes that share the costs of managing water resources equitably among all water users. We believe that the equitable sharing of these costs should always support robust water policies that provide high quality water and sanitation services to all, while ensuring the sustainable management of water resources.
Stanwood, MI Bottling Plant Expansion
Why are you seeking to expand your plant in Stanwood?
At the end of October 2016, we announced a $36 million capital investment in our Ice Mountain bottling operations in Stanwood, which will lead to the creation of 20 new jobs. The expansion of this facility is being driven by rising consumer demand for our trusted bottled water brands. As we expand, we are committed to an open, transparent process that enables the public to ask questions, share its views and any concerns, and to learn more about our operations.
What does the expansion consist of?
We are planning to adding space for two new water bottling lines in the Stanwood plant to bottle our ICE MOUNTAIN® Brand 100% Natural Spring Water and Nestlé® Pure Life® purified water products. The first new line is scheduled to begin operation in the spring of 2017. An additional line is proposed for 2018. Ice Mountain is the number-one selling bottled water brand in the Midwest. The Stanwood facility has produced Ice Mountain and Nestlé Pure Life products in Mecosta County for nearly 15 years and today employs more than 250 people.
When will the Stanwood expansion take place?
Construction on the building expansion kicked off in early October. The northwest side of the bottling plant will see 80,000 square feet of production space added to the existing 746,000 square-foot manufacturing, warehouse and logistics facility.
How have your plans been met by local stakeholders?
Mecosta County Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jennifer Heinzman announced her support for our expansion plans. "We are pleased to see Ice Mountain investing further in the success of our region," she said. "The company is very involved in our local community, and we enjoy having their support for many charitable and community organizations." James Sandy, president of the Mecosta County Development Corporation stated their organization "is in full support of the plant expansion and the permit request. Ice Mountain is, and has always been, good stewards of the environment and great community members in this region. The quality jobs that are provided to the residents of the area helps strengthen our economy in many ways."