Gov. Rick Snyder comments on deal allowing Nestle to take thousands of gallons of Great Lakes water

Nestle pays $200 per year to take 400 gallons of water per minute

DETROIT – It's a deal that many people believe isn't fair to Michiganders: Nestle taking thousands of gallons of Great Lakes water and selling it.

Nestle is only paying $200 per year to the state.

FULL COVERAGE: Michigan's water crisis

Local 4 consumer investigator Hank Winchester asked Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder what he thinks about the Nestle deal.

Snyder said Nestle followed all the rules and that this isn't about business, but a lot of people think it's simply bad business.

Nestle got approval from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to pump out 400 gallons of water per minute, and the Swiss-based company bottles that water to sell it for a huge profit.

Michigan only makes Nestle pay $200 per year for the permit fee.

On Tuesday, Snyder was at the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Gordie Howe International Bridge, and Local 4 asked about the water deal.

"If you look at it, it was done based on science," Snyder said. "It's not about business versus being anti-business. It was sound science to say those withdrawals won't have adverse impacts, and there's follow-up testing that has to take place to make sure they stay in compliance. If they don't, things would change."

"How can it not be about business when they're only paying $200 a year for a permit and making hundreds of millions of dollars off our natural resource?" Hank asked.

"That's an issue for the legislature to decide about fee structures," Snyder said. "But as a practical matter, they followed the rules as they exist, they followed sound science, so the permit was issued."

It's important to remember that before the MDEQ approved the permit request, more than 80,000 Michigan residents spoke out during public comment, saying it was a bad idea. Only around 70 people were in favor of the deal, yet it still got the green light.

Legislation has been introduced to force Nestle to pay more, but lawmakers -- Democrats and Republicans -- have spoken out to say this just doesn't seem right.

"I don't understand why we continue to see more and more of our water being allowed to be used by Nestle to be able to bottle and make money off of it," Sen. Debbie Stabenow said. "At the same time, we have families in Flint that have stopped getting bottled water through the state. That makes absolutely no sense to me."

"They ship a lot of this water out of state, so it doesn't even come to Michiganders," Shelby Township Rep. Peter Lucido said. "How is this 'Pure Michigan?' I think it's pure something else. This is the Great Lakes State. This is Pure Michigan, and as a result, we should have learned, and we have, that our water needs protection. We, as the protectors of the Great Lakes, need to be the ones policing our Great Lakes."

About the Authors:

Hank Winchester is Local 4's Consumer Investigative Reporter and the head of WDIV's "Help Me Hank" Consumer Unit. He works to solve consumer complaints, reveal important recalls and track down thieves who have ripped off metro Detroiters.

Derick is a Senior Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.