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GLIN==> Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation

Sent: Thursday, November 27, 2003 6:33 PM
Subject: Fwd: Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation press release.doc

Lake Michigan Inter-League Organizagion and others: 
     If you have not heard, on Nov. 25, a Mecosta County, Mi judge ruled against ICE MOUNTAIN water thievery, saying that the operation is damaging the surrounding environment. 
     "I am unable to find that a specific pumping rate loweer than 400 gallons per minute, or anyother rate to date, will reduce the effects and impact a level that is not harmful.." JUDGE Lawrence Root, Circuit Court, from: South Bend Tribune, by James Pritchard, AP. Nov, 26, 2003. 
      Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation filed in Mecosta in June 2001, asking for a halt to production at the bottling facility.. Terry Swier: "This sets the stage for another big piece of the puzzle and that is getting water legislation in Michigan.. some strong water legislation,." 
      Michigan DEQ earlier had allowed a permit that gave the ok for Perrier to pump almost 600,000 gallons per day. 
      Since opening last year, the water bottling plant has tripled the number of people working there to 150 and expanded its size 75%. Ice Mountain is also studying possibilities for pumping in other Great Lake States -- in cluding Michigan - for another water bottling plant of about the same size. 
      So, success in this endeavor!!  So far ... but no doubt more to come. merrill 

Read on: 

Forwarded Message: 


P.O.Box 1 Mecosta, MI 49332

Phone: 231-972-8856          www.saveMIwater.org


November 25, 2003



Terry Swier, President MichiganCitizens for Water Conservation

Phone & Fax: 231-972-8856

Jim Olson, Attorney forMichigan Citizens for Water Conservation

Phone 231 499 8831 (cell phone) from 1 pm to 4 pm, then 231-9460044 until 6 pm. Wednesday 231-882-7789.


Judge’s Ruling on WaterRights Case

Big Rapids, MI, November 25–  Mecosta County Circuit Court JudgeLawrence Root released his sixty-seven page opinion today in a lawsuit broughtby Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation and plaintiffs R.J. and BarbaraDoyle and Jeff and Shelly Sapp vs. Nestle Waters North America, Inc, formerlythe Perrier Group.  

The suit brought by Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation and itsplaintiffs in September 2001 challenged Nestle’s claim that it can take 400gallons per minute, or 210 millions gallons a year, of spring water that feedsa stream that is a tributary to the Little Muskegon River that flows to LakeMichigan, for it’s own usage. 


Judge Root’sruling sets a precedent and clarifies many critical facets of Michigan waterlaw, including important protections for the State’s lakes, streams, andwetlands, which form an essential role in Michigan’s natural resources,recreation, tourism, and economy.   Theruling confined itself to the specific relationship between the pumping anddiversion of water from the shallow unconfined aquifer that is part of  nearby wetlands, two lakes, and the DeadStream, a stream that Judge Root said “is not dead” but “a complex andbeautiful ecosystem.” Judge Root ruled that riparian rights in our state’s lakes and streams are superior to an extractionand diversion of groundwater that feeds them, like Nestle’s out of watershedsale of bottled water. “I hereby hold that riparian interests are superior toconflicting groundwater interests, and that the latter must yield to theformer.” (Opinion, p. 47).  Anydiversion of water that diminishes the riparian waters system is unlawful.  The Judge’s painstakingly detailed findings concluded that Nestle’s water operationunlawfully diminishes the lakes, streams, and wetlands at issue in thelawsuit.  He also found that thediminishment of these waters resources violated Michigan environmental laws. 


While he didnot expressly rule on broader issues concerning the Great Lakes, the opinionacknowledged the importance of Michigan’s water resources and that bottledwater derived from shallow aquifers that is diverted from lakes and streams issuspect, noting that “if water is the product,” distinguishing this from otherMichigan industries, such as farming or other beverages like beer or carbonateddrinks,  “I believe the state has arational basis on which to limit its removal as water from the stateand/or Great Lakes basin.” (Opinion, p. 61). 


            In reaching his opinion, the Judge carefullynoted the competing forces in this lengthy and intense dispute, but also wascareful to dispel any notion that he was persuaded by those forces.  Rather the Court chose to reach his findingson the evidence over nineteen days of trial and the applicable Michigan lawconcerning groundwater and riparian rights and the Michigan EnvironmentalProtection Act, a citizen suit law that prohibits the likely impairment ofMichigan’s water and other natural resources.


            Based on his opinion, Judge Root issued an order that calls for the“termination of all water withdrawals by the Defendants from the well field atthe Sanctuary Springs” within 21 days. The  ruling does not affectDefendant’s bottling operations related to the 175 gallon per minutegroundwater well located at its plant eleven miles away from the Sanctuarysite.



Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation and its plaintiffs, who havelegal riparian or public trust interests in the waters of the state, are“grateful for the Court’s thorough attention and opinion, and for thevindication of their riparian and public interest in such a precious commonlyheld resource like our State’s magnificent waters,”   Terry Swier, President of the Citizen’s Group said.  “The Court’s opinion is a major step towardthe protection of Michigan’s waters from unlawful or unreasonable use,diversion, and appropriation for shipping and selling it  beyond our watersheds and communities,”  said James Olson, from the Traverse Cityfirm Olson, Bzdok & Howard, one of Plaintiff’s lawyers in the suit.  Other lawyers representing the Plaintiffsare Jim Samuels, Big Rapids, and Chris Shafer, a professor at Cooley Law Schoolin Lansing.


Judge Root’s ruling can be viewed in its entirety at www.envlaw.com.


Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation held a press conference at thelaw office of Jim Samuels at 305 S. Warren, Big Rapids, MI, November 25thafter the Judge’s ruling.





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