Big Rapids Hosts DEQ Public Meeting About Nestle Permit Application

Plenty of passion from people surrounding a permit application from Nestle to pump more local ground water.

The Michigan DEQ hosted a public meeting.

Discussion has been swirling for months since Nestle asked to pump more water from a well near Evart.

Hundreds of people from both sides poured out to make their voices heard at Ferris State in Big Rapids.

Right now Nestle can draw 250 gallons per minute from their well.

But they are expanding and want to take 400 gallons per minute.

The DEQ says they’ve gotten close to 50,000 comments on this issue.

And both sides were not shy about sharing their opinions.

"Our fresh water supplies are streams, lakes, and rivers are not unlimited resources," said a meeting attendee.

For hours, cheers and boos all surrounding a permit application from Nestle. They want to take 400 gallons per minute from a well near Evart, but need state approval.

"We have a very robust monitoring program that’s over 100 monitoring points where we share that data and we have done a lot of our homework up front to ensure this doesn’t negatively impact the environment,’ said Arlene Anderson-Vincent.

But many aren’t convinced.

"Many people from Mecosta County may find from experience when they started drawing from the well that it had an impact on the stream," said a meeting attendee.

On the other side, support for Nestle, people saying they’ve been nothing but good neighbors.

"They’ve provided close to 300 jobs that are well paying with good benefits and sought after, their turnover rate is the lowest in any in the county," said Jim Sandy.

But people still have unanswered questions.

"What are the measurable impacts on the adjacent water shed, on the adjacent trout stream and at the rate of withdraw?" said Dave Newhouse.

"Our scientists will be combing through all the of the  information we’ve collected from Nestle and the public comment to make a decision,’ said Melody Kindraka.

You can still weigh in until April 21.

The DEQ hopes to have a decision by mid summer.