LANSING — On Monday, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality announced that it has approved a permit application to allow Nestlé to increase the amount of Michigan groundwater they pump for sale as bottled water. The new permit will allow the company to pump 400 gallons a minute, up from 250 gallons a minute.

“This permit approval shows current laws are not enough to protect our state’s unique freshwater resources,” said state Rep. Yousef Rabhi (D-Ann Arbor). “I have proposed a package of bills, House Bills 5655-57, that would ensure our groundwater is managed in the public interest, ban diversions of bottled water outside the Great Lakes watershed, and tax private corporations who profit off of bottling groundwater. These bills would give the people of Michigan the power to say ‘no’ to corporations seeking to suck us dry.”

During the public comment period on the permit application, Rep. Rabhi submitted a comment opposing the increased water withdrawal. The DEQ received 80,945 comments opposed to permit approval and only 75 in favor. Commenters opposed increased pumping for a variety of reasons, including concerns about impacts on nearby groundwater and surface water. Nevertheless, DEQ officials have said they believe existing Michigan law compels them to ignore the will of the people and issue the permit.