After Flint’s water crisis, a massive bottled-water company faces public scrutiny
After Flint’s water crisis, a massive bottled-water company faces public scrutiny.
For years, Nestlé, the multibillion-dollar Swiss food giant, has extracted water from the ground in the Great Lakes state to then bottle and sell for a profit.
Nestlé’s desire to spend next to nothing to pump water and Flint’s own drinking water crisis may have nothing to do with one another—but the juxtaposition of big-business profits next to such a marked American failure to respond to one of its own city’s access to clean water is undeniably ugly.
The situation raises the prospect of a renewed debate about how the finances of water should be handled when it is sold as a commodity.
That a company based in Switzerland wants to stick a bigger straw into Michigan’s groundwater supply for a relatively nominal fee (a $5,000 application cost and a yearly $200 water-use reporting fee), and then make millions of dollars in profit off it, is striking while contrasted with conditions in Flint.
In April, Nestlé was denied a zoning permit to construct a pumping-plant booster at a well in a town called White Pines.
It was hoping to double its pumping to nearly 400 gallons per minute and plans to appeal.
One thing is undeniable, the business of bottled water is big.
In the US, the industry pulls more than $21 billion per year, data from Euromonitor shows.
Just under a quarter of those sales belong to Nestlé, the multi-billion dollar food giant that is the world’s largest bottler of water.