Private Water Interests and the Public Good

In a world where our water delivery systems are aging and disintegrating, we must be adamant in our insistence that private business and corporate interests are paying for the resources they take for their own profit. As our infrastructure collapses, companies like Nestle capitalize on the crises caused by the types of failures we have seen in Flint. This is by NO means exclusive to Flint and similar disasters will likely continue emerge in many more municipalities in the near future. It simply makes no sense to allow such water extraction for “free” by Nestle, Coke and Pepsi, etc., while allowing the public distribution of water to become compromised.

— Nestlé CEO Bilderberger Peter Brabeck

These corporations are essentially mining our water for virtually nothing, then bottling it and selling it back to us for anywhere from 1000–1900% markup. It is outrageous to think that not only is there no tax at the wellhead for such enterprises, but that they ultimately benefit when we do have municipal crises like we have in Flint. This is two-fold insofar as 1) bottled water becomes necessity for those afflicted by crises, and 2) the reputation and safety of tap water is further eroded and undermined. The reliance on bottled water as a solution creates yet another crisis, which is plastic bottle waste. This waste, plastic bottles wrapped in more plastic, has become a global crisis all its own.

Genesee Twp. resident Samantha Baumgarner stretches a plastic grocery bag to fill with bottled water at the Mission of Hope - Universal Life Church on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016 in Flint, MI. Each bag is filled with six bottles of water, the allotted amount for each resident, per day, to be picked up at the mission. Tim Galloway for The Wall Street Journal

It is an unconscionable scenario we allow to happen. If we need funding for our water supply (and sewage) infrastructure, then make them pay a fair market value for the water they take and put it directly into funding improvements. This is our public resource! We have become so inured to the idea of a so-called “free-market”, that we are totally blind to how we are being scammed left and right. Why we continue to let multi-billion dollar, international corporate conglomerates get away with this is absolutely beyond me. We need to make them pay.

We must be the guardians of the Great Lakes and the Great Lakes Water Shed. If not us, then who? If we don't stand and march and sit and rally and be for water, what good are we? Water is what we are. Michiganders are the keepers of water. We are duty bound to the world, to keep and protect the water. We are the the Third Coast. We are your water protectors. Don’t mess with Michigan’s water. Don’t mess with Michigan. Don’t mess with the Great Lakes. Ontario, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, (Indiana), Ohio, (Pennsylvania), New York. Don’t mess with us.

Michigan residents can comment on Nestlé’s plan to grab millions of gallons of water till March 3rd

Talking Points & Comment Request: Nestle’ Increased Withdrawal

See: Nestle in Michigan: Unpacking the water battle backstory

Why Nestle pays next to nothing for Michigan groundwater

Why Nestle really wants more Michigan groundwater

UPDATE: 4/13/2017

So, we are finally coming to the end of this long process… Why they were ever asking for public input is a god damn mystery!

“MDEQ says it cannot consider public support for or opposition to a permit when making a decision. The agency has received more than 50,000 comments on the proposed permit so far” (Michigan Radio).

We, as a state, need to be taxing these massive water withdrawals and putting the money DIRECTLY back into infrastructure spending for our municipal water systems and environmental protection for water supplies. We need to demand that our state legislature address this deplorable extraction of OUR resources for the profit of a multi-national conglomerate (any of them!). Why we let this continue is beyond me.

We have got to change this situation!

Full Documentary: Bottle Life
Full Documentary: Tapped
Full Documentary: Blue Gold



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Jeremy Hockett

College instructor and observer of American Culture. PhD, American Studies, University of New Mexico.