bottled water sales rise, so does opposition to plants National Trade Publications
WASHINGTON — Bottled water companies
are facing some opposition in communities across the nation
that fear local wells, wetlands and streams are being drained
dry in the pursuit of corporate profits.
Proposals by bottlers to pump huge amounts of water from
rural communities have drawn opposition in at least six
states: Florida, Michigan, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania,
Texas, and Wisconsin, the Corpus Christi Caller
The issue has prompted the introduction of bills to tighten
water laws in nearly all of the states where controversy
has arisen and several governors have jumped into the fray,
the article said. Lawsuits have been filed in Wisconsin
and Michigan, including one by three Indian tribes. A recent
legal case in Texas went all the way to the state Supreme
In every state except New Hampshire, the water fights have
involved the Perrier Group of America Inc., which sells
more bottled in the United States than any other company.
Perrier is a subsidiary of the multinational conglomerate
Nestle S.A. of Vevey, Switzerland, the world's largest food
Perrier draws water from 75 spring sites across the country
for 15 brands of bottled water, including the Ice Mountain,
Deer Park, Zephyrhills, Poland Springs and Ozarka labels,
the newspaper said.
The controversy reflects the phenomenal success of the bottled
water industry, which has annual sales of $35 billion worldwide.
Bottled water sales in the United States have tripled in
the past 10 years to $5.7 billion in 2000, according to
Beverage Marketing Corp., a New York research and consulting
firm, the newspaper said.
To meet demand, bottled water companies have had to expand
their pumping operations and find new sites to drill wells,
the article said. In 1990, 2.2 billion gallons of bottled
water were sold in the United States, nearly all of it produced
domestically. By 2005, sales are projected to top 7.2 billion
Stephen Kay, a spokesman for the International Bottled Water
Association (IBWA) told the newspaper that companies that
invest millions of dollars in pumping operations and bottling
plants have an interest in making sure aquifers aren't pumped
to the point they can't recharge.
But University of New Hampshire professor Tom Ballestero
said large groundwater users don't have to pump groundwater
to the point of no return before they adversely affect private
wells and the environment, the newspaper reported.
Perrier spokeswoman Jane Lazgin said residents in most places
are pleased that the company is creating jobs and generating
revenue and that opponents are a vocal minority, the article
Perrier's opponents said local opposition to the company's
projects is widespread, but small communities with limited
money and expertise are at a disadvantage.
So struggles go on, like in Michigan where Gov. John Engler,
a Republican, has sided with a Perrier project in Stanwood,
MI, while state Attorney Gen. Jennifer Granholm and U.S.
Sen. Carl Levin, both Democrats, oppose it, the newspaper
reported. Last month, three northern Michigan Indian tribes
sued Engler and the state agency that granted pumping permits
to Perrier, arguing the project could impact rivers and
streams that feed the Great Lakes.
Perrier said it settled on Michigan as the site for the
bottling plant after two attempts to locate a plant in neighboring
Wisconsin met with opposition.
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