Group doesn't want Perrier bottling Michigan
U.S. Water News Online
BIG RAPIDS, Mich. -- Hundreds of Michigan residents are
trying to stop Perrier from pumping thousands of gallons of water per
day from a spring near Big Rapids.
The 720,000 gallons of spring water from western Michigan would be
used for Perrier's Ice Mountain label, which would be distributed to
states in the Midwest, including Michigan.
``It's a lot of water,'' said Birmingham resident Karin
Hollenbeck, 60, who has a vacation home in the Big Rapids area.
``There is no proof this will not harm anything.''
The Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation group, comprised of
people who own property near the Perrier Group of America's proposed
$100-million project that includes a bottling plant, wants to put a
stop to the company's plans.
Perrier has encountered similar opposition in Wisconsin when it
proposed tapping a spring and opening a bottling plant there.The
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is expected to give
Perrier approval before the middle of the year. If it gives the OK,
the department will also decide where to tap a spring and put the
plant, which would open next year.
The conservation group is currently collecting signatures in
communities that would be affected to try to undo the rezoning
Perrier was granted for the bottling plant in Mecosta County's Morton
and Mecosta townships.
Group members are also trying to thwart a similar rezoning request
in nearby Osceola Township and are raising money for their own
environmental impact study.
``I don't have enough facts to welcome them into the community,''
said Dave Moore, 62, a former Farmington Hills resident who has a
summer home in Morton Township.
Company officials site a study by East Lansing environmental firm
Malcolm Pirnie that says the Michigan water Perrier is proposing to
pump would be replaced by rain and snow that recharges the underlying
The company has 75 springs and 15 plants nationwide, including
Pennsylvania, where Ice Mountain is now bottled.
Opening a Midwest plant for Ice Mountain would create up to 200
jobs, cut Perrier's distribution costs, and better serve demand,
spokeswoman Jane Lazgin explained.
Michigan and Wisconsin are top contenders because their spring
water has the same ``lighter, more subtle delicate flavor'' taste as
water in Pennsylvania, Lazgin said.
A new plant also means a boost in tax revenue -- more than $37,000
a year toward Morton Township's $700,000 budget, should Perrier
choose the community.
``I see nothing but a benefit to the community,'' said Douglas
Behrend, Morton Township's treasurer.
Still, that doesn't convince 48-year-old Tom Rudert, who is
worried that pumping water will lower lake levels and hurt wetlands.
``Imagine all of these cottages sitting around a lake whose water
table might drop,'' said Rudert, a Mt. Pleasant resident with a
vacation home in Mecosta County's Morton Township. ``It would be
worth next to nothing to anyone if they were sitting around a big mud
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