LANSING, Mich., May 27 /PRNewswire/ -- The following statement
should be attributed to Kim Jeffery, president and chief executive officer of
Nestle Waters North America, parent company of Michigan-based Ice Mountain
Spring Water Company. The statement responds to Governor Granholm's decision
today to impose detrimental measures on Michigan's bottled water industry and
Nestle Waters' Michigan operations.
The Granholm Administration today issued a series of water use permits to
the City of Evart and Nestle Waters allowing Nestle Waters to purchase water
from the City of Evart, much as other beverage and bottled water producers do
in other Michigan cities. However, in an unprecedented move, the Governor
imposed a condition on those permits requiring Nestle's Ice Mountain bottled
water products to be distributed to customers only within the boundaries of
the Great Lakes Basin. This puts the bottled water industry in Michigan at an
unfair disadvantage to all other beverage producers in and out of state.
Governor Granholm also announced a moratorium on Michigan's bottled water
industry, saying that no water use permits would be granted to bottled water
beverage companies seeking to expand or site new facilities in the state.
These measures not only raise serious concerns for all Michigan
water users, they trample the rights of Michigan's municipal water
This is an outrageous spin. And it is dead wrong. There is an enormous
social and legal distinction between public utilities that may bottle a tiny
percentage of their capacity for local consumption, and a gigantic special
interest that bottles virtually all of its capacity for sales far outside the
Statement by Kim Jeffrey
"The Governor's decisions today severely restrict the ability of Michigan's
bottled water industry to grow, compete in the marketplace and contribute to
the economic well-being of the communities in which they operate. These
conditions are unfair and discriminatory.
This assumes bottled water is just like any other use of water. Far
from it. It is an attempt to capture public water for private profit, and is
thus separate and distinct and needs to be treated as such.
"Bottled water companies, as a group, use a miniscule amount of Michigan's
groundwater - 0.06 percent (6/100 of 1 percent). Limiting the growth of this
healthy, clean industry that provides healthful products is a disservice to
the hundreds of bottled water employees in the state and the millions of
bottled water consumers.
The question, at this time, is not the amount of water that is
being used by bottlers -- although the proposed Evart project would ultimately
drain as much water as would the infamous Nova Group export of 1998. The issue
is private ownership of public water.
"The decision to dictate conditions on the sale of bottled water and place
a moratorium on any future water use also sidesteps the real issue regarding
meaningful public policy for water resource protection. It discriminates
against a single industry that practices sound environmental management
practices and places good Michigan companies at a competitive disadvantage and
jeopardizes both existing and potential jobs and investment for the state.
Other economic benefits associated with this industry, namely tax revenues for
schools and local services, and community giving are also potentially sent
Nestle has chosen to discriminate. Rather than use water in accordance
with Michigan's traditions and centuries of common law precedent, Nestle has
chosen to separate itself from other users by trying to cash in on nature's
endowment. This simply cannot be condoned.
And who said anything about placing a moratorium "on any future
Using words like "dictate" is a cheap rhetorical device. The state is
not dictating, it is protecting and conserving.
"We are currently evaluating the implications the condition may have for
our business. We are also exploring legal options available to remedy this
untenable situation and protect our Ice Mountain business and employees in
Michigan and our wholesale and retail customers in the Midwest.
"Nestle Waters agrees that Michigan's water use laws are not strong enough.
We have actively participated in a process to improve those laws, which would
protect the resource and bring certainty to our business and every other
Michigan manufacturer, municipality and resident that uses water.
If Nestle was serious about this point, it would not have sought to
capture and sell public trust waters until a statute was passed. Instead, it
tried to exploit a gap in Michigan law.
"For Michigan, whose major economic advantage over other states is its
water resources to choose winners and losers of water use will lead down a
path of negligence in resource protection. Whether you're talking about golf
courses, farmers, manufacturers, beverage makers, electricity producers or
water bottlers: the fact is the water is being used. We would hope Michigan
lawmakers take action to ensure water use policy is aimed at resource
protection that is fairly applied to all users and based on scientific
There is only one loser in today's developments -- Nestle and those
who, like it, want to capture public trust waters for private profit. No
traditional users are affected by the moratorium nor should they be, as they
are acting in accordance with common law principles.
Nestle's attempt to blur the distinctions between its radical new
exploitation of Michigan water and traditional water uses practiced by golf
courses, farmers, beverage makers and others is a gross disservice to the
public debate, and should fool no one.
"Superficial, marketing-based measures are not helpful in protecting
resources; the real effect is to put Michigan companies at a disadvantage to
other competitors and lose the prospect of more clean jobs in the