A Michigan appeals court has dealt a blow to Nestle's controversial plan to pump more groundwater from a mid-Michigan township and sell it at a profit.
The three-judge panel reversed a lower court's decision Tuesday, ruling that Osceola Township was within its rights to bar the company from building a new pumping station that violated zoning regulations. Nestle sued over the denial, arguing it was "providing an essential public service."
The court disagreed with that claim, noting the area has other drinking water sources. It also determined bottled water does not constitute a public water supply.
The state approved Nestle's request to double the rate at which it pumps ground water from Osceola Township in April of 2018.
MLive has additional context:
Although there is a pending decision on an administrative challenge to that state decision, it’s separate from the Osceola Township case, which stems from a dispute over whether the water pipeline booster pump station Nestle wants to build conforms with township zoning law.
Although the two matters are regularly conflated, Osceola Township supervisor Tim Ladd said the township never intended to act as a block on Nestle’s water extraction.
“This was never about trying to limit what they wanted to do as a company,” Ladd said. “It goes back to whether they can put that type of building on that property as it’s zoned.”