Nestle's controversial water deal: What's in it for Michigan?

Nestle allowed to pump hundreds of gallons of water each minute

DETROIT – Help Me Hank has learned more about the controversial Nestle water deal that has the Swiss-based company pumping out hundreds of gallons of water from Michigan's Great Lakes for just $200 per year.

Some Michigan residents believe Nestle is helping to change lives for the better, but environmentalists said the company is creating major problems.

Local 4's Hank Winchester spoke with residents in Evart, Michigan, and they said the water and wildlife in the area are suffering because of Nestle.

Residents said the creek was thriving a few years ago, but things have changed. People who live nearby said it's because of the water Nestle is pumping out.

Nestle said it has done extensive testing, and so far there are no signs of damage or danger to the environment.

Nestle pumps out 400 gallons of water a minute from a number of wells, most located in Evart.

Residents can see the investment Nestle has made. There are new fields at the high school and improvements at the fairgrounds, and Nestle covers part of the water bill for the roughly 200 people who live in Evart.

City Manager Zack Szakacs said he's a big fan of Nestle and everything the company has done for Evart.

Nestle's plant is about 45 minutes away in Standwood, Michigan.

The company employs around 300 people, most of whom live closer to the original plant location. When the company first started taking the water, many expected an economic boom.

Nestle is in the middle of a court battle over the water withdrawal.

The permit was approved by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. The MDEQ spoke to Local 4 for the first time about the deal.

You can watch Hank's full story in the video posted above.

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 the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.