BlueTriton, Formerly Nestle Waters, Withdraws from Controversial Permit

On Sept. 28, BlueTriton Brands, formerly known as Nestle Waters North America, sent a letter to the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) to withdraw from Permit 1701–a controversial permit the State of Michigan approved in 2018 that allowed Nestle Waters to increase their water extraction rate from 250 to 400 gallons per minute from the White Pine Springs well.

There is a bit of history to the permit.

“We found that Nestle was pumping up in Evart at the White Springs well beginning in 2011,” said Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation (MCWC) President Peggy Case. “They had a permit to pump at 150 gallons per minute. Then, they later added another 100 gallons per minute with no public comment or participation, so they are now theoretically pumping at 250 gallons per minute from this well.”

“We filed a contested case and we discovered that they were going to try and increase that pumping and get a permit for 400 gallons per minute from the same well,” said Case. “That contested case went through a process with the administrative law judge with EGLE. They kept trying to say we didn’t have jurisdiction, we spent a lot of time and money arguing our right to even participate in this when we have members that live on these affected creeks.”

While MCWC is still waiting for a ruling on the issue in Ingham County, they do believe BlueTriton withdrawing from the permit is a victory.

“We’ve spent four years trying to get rid of that permit,” said Case. “The unfortunate thing is, what they also took off the table, is the requirement that there be a monitoring process that was being developed. They were required to have in place a monitoring process using the U.S. Geological Survey and independent sources for this monitoring, and we were attempting to be involved in that process.”

MCWC says the reregistered permit from EGLE is still more than Nestle’s 250 gallons per minute.

“EGLE, right after they received the letter from BlueTriton, they immediately went ahead and reregistered the permit and told them they could go to 288 gallons per minute,” said Case. “Well, that’s an increase of 38 gallons per minute,. We don’t view that as a victory.”

In the letter, BlueTriton asked MCWC to drop the Ingham County case against the permit.

“We can’t do that, it’s not moot,” said Case. “There are many issues that are still on the table that need to be dealt with before we walk away and say everything is ok.”

Communications Manager from EGLE submitted a statement to 9&10 News saying they accepted the Sept. 28 letter from BlueTriton and “We will continue to enforce the conditions of the existing permit to ensure natural resources are protected.”

A spokesperson from BlueTriton told 9&10 News saying “BlueTriton Brands, Inc. (“BlueTriton”) is currently able to source sufficient water from existing sources.  BlueTriton will not utilize the extra capacity authorized under the approved Section 17 permit at this time. We appreciate the hard work of the Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy staff throughout the permit review process.”