Following is a letter obtained from a FOIA request from MDEQ Office of the Great Lakes. The letter is written by Gov. Engler to Ohio Gov. Taft. - terry swier
The Honorable Bob Taft
Governor of Ohio
77 South High Street
Columbus Ohio 43224
Dear Governor Taft:
In the near future, you may be receiving letters from individuals and
organizations who are opposed to the development of a spring-water bottling
plant in mid-Michigan by The Perrier Group of America. You will be urged to
request the convening of Great Lakes governors and premiers to evaluate
Perrier's project under the Prior Notice and Consultation procedures of the
Great Lakes Charter. By way of this letter, I wish to provide you with clear
and correct information concerning the project and the process Michigan
employed to evaluate Perrier's proposal.
Perrier plans to become the 36th bottled-water plant to commence operations
in Michigan. When fully operational, Perrier will withdraw approximately
720,000 gallons per day of spring water for purification, sterilization,
bottling, and eventual distribution to consumers under the brand name,
Mountain Ice. Consumers living in the Great Lakes basin will constitute the
vast majority of the customers to whom Perrier will market this product.
Perrier's permit application underwent the most comprehensive review ever
conducted by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, including a
public hearing in the area where the plant will be located. Extensive
hydrogeologic tests and analyses ofpotentia1 impacts on stream flows,
wetlands, and biotic habitat all concluded that the project would not
result' in any significant adverse impact. Moreover, in anticipation of the
work by Great Lakes governors and. premiers on Annex 2001 to establish a
common conservation standard to govern large water withdrawals, Perrier
incorporated several resource restoration and protection features into its
Perrier has endowed a significant fund to pay for various restoration
projects throughout the Muskegon River watershed as part of its effort to
not only avoid significant adverse impacts, but to actually improve this
vital resource. In addition, they have acquired the development rights for
over 1,100' acres of land to protect the recharge area for the spring they
will utilize. Finally, they will apply over 60 monitoring devices to provide
early warning of any impacts that may develop so that they can be quickly
addressed. The data from these wells will be shared with Michigan
universities and agencies, and will dramatically improve the state's
understanding of ground water behavior.
Opponents of the Perrier project have cited an erroneous and politically
motivated letter from Michigan's attorney general to justify a call for
invoking the Prior Notice and Consultation process under the Great Lakes
Charter. If governors and premiers were to implement her interpretation of
the Great Lakes Charter and the federal Water Resources Development Act,
every new residential well and business use of water in the basin would
require permission from an state and provincial leaders. Clearly, such a
process would be costly, impractical and hopelessly unworkable.
As you know, the Great Lakes Charter calls for state and provincial
consultation for any proposal to consumptively use more than five million
gallons per day of Great Lakes water. The Perrier project falls far below
this threshold even without considering the fact that much of the product
will be consumed within the basin. For this reason, I did not invoke the
Prior Notice and Consultation process under the Charter.
The federal Water Resources Development Act addresses diversions and bulk
exports of Great Lakes surface water. It does not address the consumptive
use of water, or water that is incorporated into the many products that are
made in the Great Lakes basin. I hope you agree that to conclude that this
federal law requires the express approval of each Great Lakes state governor
for the use of water in products like beer, pop, and canned vegetables would
be overreaching, wrong, and damaging to our water dependent economy.
I agree with Ohio Department of Natural Resources director ~ Sam Speck, that
the responsibility and authority over this project is a matter for Michigan.
I have enclosed a copy of his recent letter to this effect for your review.
The Perrier project brings into focus the importance of Annex 2001 and the
need to expeditiously conclude work on developing the binding agreements
called for in this historic document. I look forward to working with you in
the months to come as we seek to secure in-basin authority over the fresh
water resources of the Great Lakes basin for the benefit of citizens in our
respective states and provinces.