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E-M:/ When is Great Lakes diversion not a diversion?



The question of who really owns Michigan's waters--private corporations or the public--will be answered this year as Nestle Corporation eyes up to nine water mining projects in Michigan under the state's new 2006 water use law.  That law, famously, redefined what a water diversion means to exclude anything in containers of 5.7 gallons or less. What was less discussed at the time the bill was passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor was the two-year free-for-all given Nestle and other water mining companies.  During this "grace" period even the law's limited standards for preventing adverse impacts on rivers from water mining may not apply, or will apply only if a huge hurdle of proof is overcome.   Thus the rush by Nestle to get pumps in the ground ASAP.

As author, blogger and Clean Water Action policy advisor Dave Dempsey has noted, Michigan is opposing as an unlawful diversion a proposal by New Berlin, WI to remove from the Great Lakes basin 340 million gallons a year.  Yet if all of Nestle's proposed or studied water mining and packaging operations are approved in Michigan, they would total well over 500 million gallons per year. 

So when is a diverson not a diversion?  Maybe when it happens in the Great Lakes State.