Water access is a basic human right. We all need it to live, we all needed to maintain our health, and it should be accessible to all regardless of social status.
Bottled water is also a very popular commodity in the world. The Nestlé Corporation now extracts 400 gallons of water per minutes from a underground deposit in Michigan. They been extracting water for 15 years now, and just recently asked for the rights to increase the amount from 250 gallons to 400 gallons. What this means for the people of Michigan, a state which is already dealing with issues of water safety in the town of Flint, is that the lakes above these underground water sources are being affected. The small lakes that people fish in are no longer able to support life. In a piece at NDRC.org, a pair of citizen scientists and surveyors have been studying the water levels in Chippewa and Twin Creek and they have observed that the water is so low that the trout that were once plentiful can no longer survive there.
After the Nestlé Corporation made their request for additional access to underground wells, the citizens of Michigan enacted several Townhall meetings where they would discuss the issue. When the public began commenting on the move to allow Nestlé to expand their water access, a staggering 80,000 people expressed unhappiness with the decision, with only 75 people in favor of the Nestlé Corporation.
Former chairman and CEO of Nestlé Peter Brabeck-Letmathe has said that the idea of water as a human right was “extreme”. He later backed down in that statement by saying that water as subsistence was a human right but water for swimming pools and lawn care was a luxury. He also said that water was a food item no different from any other food items and could be commoditized. This attitude has alarmed the public as climate change affects had begun eroding our access to natural resources.
According to the law in many states, no one needs permission to get water so long as they access it themselves. However, the volume is that Nestlé extracts has required them to get permits from the states that they are drilling in. California recently ordered Nestlé to stop collecting water from the San Bernardino national Forest for their arrowhead label.
A big part of the problem is enforcement. This state legislature that grants deathly access to the waters often does not do follow up checks to see what the effect is of such a large scale collection is having on the environment. One government official in Michigan said that it would cost $18 million to regularly monitor water sources that are being affected. In response, the citizenry is taking over the role of watchdog an advocate work for the environment. It is through the collective efforts of the people who live there that these resources are being preserved.
What do you think about this story? Do you live in Michigan and have you seen the effects of the Nestlé Corporation on the environment? Please let us know in the comments section and help us add your voice to the effort.