State Water Activists
To Meet With Granholm Over Ice Mountain
MI - Just hours after being sworn in as the state's forty-seventh
and first-ever woman governor, Jennifer Granholm called
for a meeting with members of water activist group Sweetwater
Alliance to discuss the future of water takings by the
Ice Mountain Spring Water Company, a division of Nestle
Waters North America.
of Granholm's transition team approached the group after
their sizable presence at the governor's inauguration
bold blue flags of Sweetwater, a now recognizable symbol
of citizens' resistance to water privatization in the
state, could be seen flying throughout the crowd. Members
of the group's Detroit chapter also unfurled a 25-foot banner reading "Stop
Ice Mountain" directly in the
governor's line of sight.
encouraging to see the new governor's responsiveness,
especially on her first day in office," said Jon
Keesecker, a Mount Pleasant organizer with Sweetwater Alliance.
"But what citizens are looking for is that she act
on the positions she took as attorney general. She may
have lacked the authority then, but as governor she has
the power to do what she recommended the state do almost
a year ago: to declare this project illegal and shut Ice
September 2001, then-state Attorney General Granholm weighed
in on the legality of Ice Mountain's bottling operations in Mecosta County in a letter to then-Governor John
is...my view," she wrote in the 2001 letter, "that
withdrawing groundwater and bottling it for sale in interstate
commerce for use outside the Great Lakes basin constitutes
a diversion or export...within the meaning of the federal
'federal law' cited by Granholm--the 1986 Water Resources
Development Act (WRDA)--was designed to give Great Lakes
governors and Canadian premiers the power to manage and
limit withdrawals and diversions from the Great Lakes
Basin for use outside the region. Under WRDA, any one
of the Great Lakes governors or premiers can "veto"
a proposed withdrawal or diversion once the council of
governors and premiers has been convened.
giving the governors the ability to veto any diversion
or export of Great Lakes water, Congress placed the responsibility
for interpretation and implementation of the statute primarily
with the governors of the Great Lakes states," Granholm
wrote in the letter to Engler. "In keeping with this
responsibility, I urge you to invoke the consultation
process available under section 1109 of the WRDA...and
consult with the other Great Lakes governors and premiers
to determine whether and to what extent this and similar
removal proposals should be permitted."
has not yet indicated whether she will follow her own
recommendation and invoke the consultation and review
process for the Ice Mountain bottling proposal now that
she has assumed the office of governor.
she has made herself a target by weighing in on this issue
as attorney general," said Robert Bartle, an organizer
with Sweetwater North. "It will be difficult for
her not to invoke WRDA and review this project closely
now that she has cited it as the governor's responsibility
to do so."
can be sure that we and thousands of other citizens will
be there to make sure she does not neglect her new 'responsibilities',"
Mountain began bottling at a facility near Stanwood, Michigan
in May 2002. A lawsuit brought by Michigan Citizens for
Water Conservation against Ice Mountain will be heard
in May of this year.
Alliance is a direct action human rights group dedicated
to the defense and liberation of essential resources from
corporate control. For more info, visit Sweetwater on
the web at www.waterissweet.org.