Group asks DEQ to slow down approval of water request

bottle-of-water (1)A bottled water company wants permission to pump more water from the Muskegon River Watershed. Local environmental groups are pushing back. They want the state Department of Environmental Quality to slow down the approval process.

More than two dozen people held a small rally on the state Capitol steps before they marched to the state Department of Environmental Quality to drop off petitions outlining their demands.

“There is a tremendous shortage of information,” said Jeff Ostahowski with the Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation. “We’re also asking for public hearings around the state in Evart, Detroit, Flint, Muskegon, Traverse City, and Sault Sainte Marie. We believe this is a statewide issue.”

The group also wants an inventory of the impact of water withdrawals on wildlife, and for the federal government to track water withdrawals.

Nelson Switzer is the chief sustainability officer with Nestle Waters. He says the request is supported by its studies of the effects of water withdrawals on the watershed.

“That science, coupled with our commitment to operating only in systems that are sustainable, I hope, certainly gives people the confidence, it certainly gives us the confidence that we can operate there sustainably,” he said.