Michigan's water extraction issue continues despite promises

In Michigan, unchecked water extraction by a major corporation is raising red flags about environmental sustainability and social equity, especially as communities such as Flint struggle with ongoing water quality crises.

Anna Clark reports for ProPublica.


In short:

  • Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer promised to crack down on water extraction by bottled water companies but little has changed six years into her administration.
  • Nestle, now BlueTriton Brands, continues to extract groundwater at minimal costs despite public opposition and legislative attempts to restrict it.
  • The state has yet to pass significant water protection laws, even though Democrats now control both legislative houses.

Key quote:

"They’re getting all the breaks. Our concerns don’t seem to be heard."

— Steve Petoskey, Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation board member

Why this matters:

Environmental advocates argue that this extraction is not only inequitable but also unsustainable. The removal of massive volumes of water can deplete local aquifers, impacting ecosystems, wildlife, and the long-term availability of water for residents and agriculture. This concern is particularly acute as climate change alters precipitation patterns and increases the frequency of droughts, making water an even more precious resource.

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