To keep you up to date with Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation
Press Release, September 7, 2001
To: News Media and other Interested Persons
From: Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation
Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation, a non profit organization that seeks to conserve and protect Michiganís water, has filed legal claims in Mecosta County asking the Circuit Court to declare that the Perrier water withdrawal project is contrary to Michigan water and public trust law. "The public trust protects the citizens rights in these waters for fishing, boating, swimming, and survival," Terry Swier, President of the water conservation group said. Pure water for pure profit violates the public trust and robs Michigan of its most vital heritage."
Perrier wants to tap at least 210 million gallons a year of spring water that feeds the Little Muskegon River and the Great Lakes, and remove it from the land, the Muskegon River watershed, and the Great Lakes basin. The legal claims were filed as a proposed amendment to an existing suit involving the clearing of land for construction of Perrierís proposed bottling plant before the company obtained its permits from the Department of Environmental Quality. On August 16, the Department issued the permit under the Safe Drinking Water Act a week before a decision was expected. As of yet, the Department has not issued the permits for the eight stream and eighteen wetland crossings for the pipelines. A formal opinion is pending from Attorney General Jennifer Granholm in response to requests by three different Michigan Legislators, led by Rep. Julie Dennis, Muskegon, that question whether the Perrier proposal would violate federal law that prohibits the diversion or export of water outside of the Great Lakes basin without the consent of each governor of every Great Lakes state.
Terry Swier speaking for Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation says, "We firmly believe that Michigan and its citizens have a distinct say in who can take the waters of the State and divert them for sale for private convenience." Weíre asking the Court to define and determine whether Perrier or any other company can privatize pure water and disconnect it from our lakes and streams, or the Great Lakes, and sell it elsewhere without paying a dime to the State. It is unreasonable and requires the approval of our Legislature for a private water company to divert water that is held in common by all."
"This issue demands a resolution that protects the State and its citizens," Jim Olson, one of the groupís attorneys said. "Under Michigan water and public trust law there are serious questions whether a company, like Perrier, has the authority to do what it plans to do. Until there is an answer, no one should be allowed to divert or remove water for sale and private gain. This is about clarifying and authorizing the water rights, public trust, and water diversion issues before projects like Perrier are allowed to happen. The world water crisis and thirst for water will increase dramatically in just a decade. We need to resolve these issues for Michigan now, before it is too late." Olson said. "This is not about Perrier. The precedent of the Perrier proposal will be devastating for Michigan- both economically and environmentally."
MCWC believes there needs to be a comprehensive water law in this State before the publicís interest in water is lost forever because of international trade agreements, like NAFTA or the WTO. Michigan has the sole authority of determining who owns the water, what interests exist in it, and what constitutes reasonable or unreasonable use of water, not international trade organizations or their representatives. Michigan has a say in whether the water can be lawfully shipped out of a watershed or Great Lakes basin forever.
A hearing on a motion to permit the amended water rights and public trust lawsuit will be heard by the Hon. Lawrence Root, Mecosta County Circuit Court Judge, in November.