Nestle will not appeal COA ruling

Bottled-water maker had sought permit from Osceola Twp.

LANSING — Nestle Waters North America announced this week that it would not appeal a Michigan Court of Appeals ruling that blocked the bottled-water maker from building a booster-pump station in Osceola Township.

The COA ruling, issued Dec. 3, reversed 51st Circuit Court Judge Susan Sniegowski’s Dec. 20, 2017, decision to permit a Nestle booster-pump station for the White Pine Springs Well, located in the township. According to a statement issued this week, Nestle said "further litigation is not in anyone's interest."

"We firmly believe that the Circuit Court was correct in ordering Osceola Township to issue a permit for our request to build a small, 12-foot-by-22-foot building, to house a booster pump that would increase pressure along our pipeline to transport additional water from the White Pine Springs source," the statement read. "We believe the plan we proposed met the Township’s site plan and special land use standards.

"However, the matter has now been before two courts which reached different decisions. At this point, further litigation is not in anyone’s interest, so we have decided to explore other options to transport the water withdrawn from White Pine Springs."

Osceola Township Supervisor Tim Ladd could not be reached for comment.

Peggy Case, the president of the grassroots water conservation group Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation (MCWC), said she was pleased Nestle had given up in its legal challenges. MCWC has its own legal challenges with Nestle, specifically, an ongoing lawsuit regarding the permit itself.

"We're happy with the appeals court decision," Case said. "Our concern right now is that Nestle has publicly made it clear that they will do whatever they can to get that water from the pump to the trucking station. They seem to be willing to do things that are more environmentally damaging than what they are already doing."

According to the COA ruling, written by judges Cynthia Stephens, Deborah Servitto and Amy Ronayne Krause, the circuit court ruled Nestle's plan constituted an "essential public service," but the court of appeals disagreed.

"We agree with the trial court's observation that water is essential to human life, as well to agriculture, industry, recreation, science, nature and essentially everything that humans need. However, the trial court went on to conclude that because selling bottled water for profit supplies a public demand somewhere, it constitutes a 'public service," the ruling stated.

"The trial court erred in effectively concluding that because water is essential, the provision of water in any form, manner or context is necessarily an 'essential public service.'"