State Court of Appeals rules against Nestlé's bottled water operation in Osceola Twp.

Dec 4, 2019 at 4:59 pm
click to enlarge State Court of Appeals rules against Nestlé's bottled water operation in Osceola Twp.
Joel McCartan /

Score one for the environmentalists. On Tuesday, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled against Nestle's Ice Mountain bottled water operation in Osceola Township.

The company had been pursuing zoning approval for a new booster pump station after receiving the go-ahead from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to increase pumping rates from 250 gallons per minute to 400 gallons per minute at its well in Osceola Township. But the effort met resistance from concerned citizens. Lisa Wozniak, executive director of the Michigan League of Conservation Voters, accused the department of "hanging a 'For Sale' sign on Michigan’s abundant water resources." Nestlé's own reporting even showed increased pumping could harm Michigan's wetlands.

Tuesday's ruling by appellate judges Cynthia Diane Stephens, Deborah Servitto and Amy Ronayne Krause reverses an Osceola County Circuit Court judge's previous ruling in favor of the Nestlé's plan, agreed with Nestlé that water is "essential to life" and "meets a public demand."

But the appellate court called bullshit.

"As an initial matter, the circuit court's conclusion that plaintiff's commercial water-bottling operation is an 'essential public service' is clearly erroneous," the judges said. A private company selling bottled water is not an essential public service.

The fight isn't over. Nestlé can next ask for the property to be re-zoned, or take the case to the Michigan Supreme Court.

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