Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder discusses controversial Nestle water deal

Nestle bottles Michigan water, sells it for profit

DETROIT – Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder spoke Wednesday about Nestle's controversial water deal with the state.

The Swiss-based company is taking millions of gallons of water from wells in northern Michigan, bottling it and selling it for profit. The company only pays the state $200 per year.

Nestle makes big money off the state of Michigan, pumping water out and selling it everywhere. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality granted the permit, saying Nestle is following all the rules laid out in the statute.

But is it a good investment for Michigan or a chance for a foreign-based company to make a major profit?

Local 4's Devin Scillian asked Snyder about the deal on Mackinac Island.

"Is it a fair deal for Michigan?" Devin asked.

"Well, again, it followed all the current regulatory and legal environment," Snyder said. "The question is, people can always say, 'Should the system change in some way?' That's a fair policy question that people could ask. But in terms of complying with the current rules and not hurting the aquifer and making sure we continue to have water for other uses, it's in compliance with that."

Some lawmakers have proposed changing the laws or introducing new legislation that would tax Nestle.

"Would you like to see changes in the law, even if they're adhering to the current policies?" Devin asked.

"I think we can learn from this and look at these kinds of questions," Snyder said. "Do I have a policy suggestion at this point in time? No."

But some lawmakers have suggestions, saying that the deal needs to be stopped and that Snyder, who appoints the head of the DEQ, should be doing more to make a change.

"I've heard the governor's office say there's nothing they can do because it's in the statute," Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller said. "Then the state Legislature says there's nothing they can do because the governor appoints the DEQ. Well, I'm sorry, ladies and gentlemen, that is not going to wash here. If you can change the Constitution of the United States, you can certainly figure out a state statute in Michigan."

Some legislation is pending, but it's unclear if Nestle will have to pay the state more money to take the water.

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.