The video, “Nestle in Michigan”, discusses the issue of decreasing water levels in northwest Michigan areas. This is largely in part due to the pumping of water from natural springs and lakes by Nestle for the resale of their bottled water. Many residents are reporting that they are finding “mud flats” on their property were creeks used to exist. Nestle is pumping “upwards of 450 gallons per minute” of water from Michigan water sources—more than what can be replenished by natural means. This is causing water levels in streams to lower and mud flats appearing where other bodies of water once stood.
Initially, my first response to the video was disbelief that the state government would allow this to happen. Especially considering that Nestle is essentially (as stated by one of the speakers in the video as well) taking our water supply, treating it, bottling it, and then selling it back to us. Our own natural resource—sold back to us, without the state government or local ...view middle of the document...
This leaves Nestle the ability to take as much as they want, without paying, and leaving the local residents less water for their own uses. Many residents in the area have wells for their water supply since it is a largely rural area. Additionally, the water is used for irrigation of farmland and for sport in the form of boating and fishing. To protect the locals, and the well being of Michigan’s economy, I believe that all levels of government should be held responsible in protecting the water supply.
House Bill 6443 attempted to address the potential unintended consequences of House Bill 5319. This is because HB 5319 repealed the rights of a property owner to reasonable use of ground water, so long as their use did not diminish the available of water of their neighbors. Instead, owners would now have to obtain permission from the government to use the well water on their property. This opens the door for the imposition of fees for the use of the well water. HB 6443 sought to prohibit any imposition of taxes on the use of well water (MichiganVotes.com). In my opinion, HB 6443 was an appropriate solution to avoid any imposition of fees; however, HB 5319 does not seem to offer much resolution. It is my understanding that the land that Nestle is pumping the water from is being leased by them from the government. HB 5319 requires the property owner to obtain permission from the government to use the well water—if I am understanding this correctly, the government is the land owner and therefore would be required to grant itself permission for use of the land by Nestle. This would be a feasible solution if the government were attempting to give themselves the power to deny Nestle the right to pump the water.
I believe that passing HB 6443 would have been in the best interest of the residents of Michigan. Without it, well water could be taxed as any other product sold can be taxed. I am sure that was not the intention of the person that introduced the Bill, but it could have become a reality in later years.
Menzies, J. (January 8, 2010). Nestle in Michigan. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M3d0rGGS3OA&feature=youtu.be
“2010 House Bill 6443: Establish that no tax be imposed for well water withdrawal”. (n.d.). MichiganVotes. Retrieved from http://www.michiganvotes.org/2010-HB-6443